This word is repeated a lot, to the point where maybe we think, “Okay, I get it – people are a good thing.”
Honestly life can be easier without community. My personality type is that of a driver, I like to be in charge of moving forward. Getting from point A to point B is less noisy, less opinionated, and less crowded when you are driving alone. I mean who likes back seat drivers right?
Well driving by our lonesome is easier when you know where you are going. Imagine driving from Virginia to California. That trip would get pretty boring, pretty lonely, and pretty confusing (even if you do have GPS to help). Life is more full, when you have assistant navigators alongside the ride with you.
Community is inconvenient and it’s messy.
But even in it’s less than glorious attributes, community is essential and powerful.
I want to share three realities of community I’ve experienced recently:
1. Loving one another is not a choice, it’s a commandment…
John 13:34 “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”
Read that last line again. It does not say by the way you share insta posts about Jesus. It does not say by the way you know all of the books of the bible A-Z and Z-A. It says it is by way of community with one another that everyone will know that you are Christians. Think of it this way can someone say they are soccer player, if they’ve never been on a team? How would they know their mastery of the game and their growth areas as an athlete? How can we know we are developing and becoming strong followers of Jesus if we are not in a team, if we are not in a grounded community?
2. Jesus loves you AND them too…
Psalm 103: 2-4 “Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul, And do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you [lavishly] with loving kindness and tender mercy.”
Reading about God’s forgiveness, of His healing power, of His redemption and mercy is great! It can make us feel all tingly inside and encourages our souls. The beauty about God is that He acts this way towards everyone, not just you as an individual. When we mess up God forgives and in the same way when people in our community mess up, God forgives their mess ups. God does not pick and choose favorites. Jesus loves you AND them too, therefore do not think of yourself as better than others. Community is defined as a group of people having a particular characteristic in common or practicing common ownership. If we are all in need of Him, then we have more in common than we think.
3. There is protection in community…
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Help I have fallen and I can’t get up. Imagine going on a hike by yourself on a terrain you’ve never been on and you get hurt. It’ll be a painful waiting process as someone comes along to help you. If you had gone out with someone, they would be your comfort, they would be your aid to keep on moving even through the pain, they would bring you joy when you just want to cry. They are also protection against the forces that come along and hit you harder when you have fallen. There is strength, comfort and protection that we can only experience in community.
I hope you’re encouraged to continue to pursue community or to find a faith community. May we be a people that live life together as the disciples of Jesus did. May we be a people that love one another with unselfish concern. May we forgive and love others just as God forgives us. May we be a people that comfort one another and lift each other up in times of weakness. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.