And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship
Acts 2:42, NKJV
Webster describes the origin of the word vulnerable as originating from the Latin noun vulnus or wound. Vulnus led to the Latin verb vulnerare, meaning to wound, and then to the Late Latin adjective vulnerabilis, which became vulnerable in English in the early 1600’s. Vulnerable originally meant capable of being physically wounded or having the power to wound (the latter is now obsolete), but since the late 1600’s, it has also been used figuratively to suggest a defenselessness against non-physical attacks. In other words, someone (or something) can be vulnerable to criticism or failure as well as to literal wounding.
The word denotes a sense of letting down one’s guard or defenses—becoming open and receptive. Vulnerability is a key in community. To have true community and fellowship, it requires those in the community to let down their guard and become transparent and open. Figuratively, it is not merely allowing others to look at your yard through the privacy fence; it is actually removing the fence altogether and allowing others into your space.
The Bible uses a Greek word Koinonia to help paint this picture. It means fellowship, intimacy, joint participation or camaraderie. It is the sharing of mutual risk and mutual benefit. In Christ’s community this is expressed in the joining of many backgrounds, diversities, and experiences into one Body with Christ as the head.
I used to run a communal living discipleship home for men. In this sense of community, everyone shared not only space and housing, but our lives. If someone in the house was having a bad day, everyone noticed. If there was a success, we all rejoiced. Challenges were faced collectively, not just individually. This environment demanded vulnerability.
Our community in Christ demands vulnerability. When God is convicting and challenging you, community requires vulnerability to share this conviction with others. As James says, confess your faults to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed (James 5:16). Community requires outdoing one another with love and honor (Romans 12:10). This means you intentionally are looking for ways to bless one another. Vulnerability means that you first walk in forgiveness with your community before you offer your worship (Matt 18). There are nearly 60 commands in Scripture that begin with “one another.” Vulnerability requires walking in community with others.
Ask God to help you let down the walls of fear and pride and become vulnerable within your community. There is no command in scripture that you must score 100% on an entrance exam for Christ’s community. Consider those who followed Jesus: drunks, murderers, thieves, prostitutes, business people, religious people. Come as you are into His community. Let down the walls with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. See what power flows in community as it did in the New Testament church.
The words in this verse “continued steadfastly” means to be preserved in; kept from spoiling; or maintain for future use. There is a direct link between your involvement in Christ’s community and your spiritual preservation. The moment you disconnect from divine fellowship within the Body of Christ, you begin to spoil. At this point some may offer excuses such has offense, hurt, wrongful actions by church leadership, and the like. While unfortunate things happen within the Church, the Church is God’s plan for your spiritual life and fellowship. Walking through these difficulties perfects you and shapes you as you humble yourself before God and remain vulnerable in community.
Today is a new day to walk in community with vulnerability. Take the small step of opening up to someone about what God is doing in your life. Share a Scripture that has been meaningful to you. Pray for one another. Look for way to bless others in your community. You might be surprised at the power of God that flows into your life through community!