e·thos: the characteristic spirit of a community.
In our church, we employ two different types of groups. One of them is likely meeting in your area on Sunday: Community Groups. These groups are meant to possess the ethos of a “love feast”.
It’s the same ethos that everyone wants in a family: to be welcomed, to be known, to be safe, to be connected, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. On Sunday, that “bigger than ourselves” thing will be portrayed in communion: we are united to Christ in his death and resurrection; we are kept by His presence with us; and we look forward to the day when we will feast with him, face-to-face.
Which should then echo into Community Group. The ethos of Community Groups are like a “backwards echo” from this feast to come. See Isaiah 25. Take a moment to read it . . . and revel in it.
Because the ethos of this feast is lavish grace, from God (6-8). Thus, all exult in Him; all eyes are on Him (9). This is one ethos of true Christian community: to be happy in God.
With each other. This is another ethos. The only qualification for a place at the meal is that one be in need, at heart (4). Thus all may come to the table. We’re happy in God together.
Good enough? Not quite. Because everyone present is pulled out of themselves, fully fixed on God, and because the only qualification is need, not accomplishment, there is no room for pride, or self-sufficiency at this feast (11). What matters is not one’s wealth or social standing (12). This is another, less-well-practiced ethos of true Christian community: humility.
What does humility look like? It may look like simply being there. Pride irritates, but then it also separates.
Yet humility begins long before the meal, back in church, with a heart burdened with the need to listen - to hear God, to place one’s very soul and life under God’s words of life. Humility then takes that attitude to Community Group . . . and listens . . . and asks another question . . . and listens.
At base, humility is simply the product of prioritizing Christ and His grace as most important. Pride suffocates under such conditions. For example, see Jesus’ meal with Simon, beginning in Luke 7:36. Simon judgmentally prioritizes purity. But Jesus makes things very uncomfortable for his proud host, castigating his pride. But the “sinful” woman awkwardly, stumblingly, prioritizes Jesus. The result? She’s forgiven . . . and known, made safe, and connected to the family of God Himself. On that day, Simon hosted a meal. But only that woman feasted.