Before I dive in, you may be asking, “What is community?” Here’s a quick definition of the word community: “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals”. Basically it is a group of people drawn together by the things they have in common.
God has a plan and purpose for community, and it is wonderful and beautiful! Perhaps, that hasn’t been your experience, but I assure you that a good and wonderful version of it still is available.
To start us off, here are some words from Jesus out of the book of Matthew.
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. In other words, while loving God and devoting your life to Him, the next best thing you could ever do with your life is to love others around you.
That’s a big deal!
Even Jesus devoted himself to a community – his disciples. While Jesus performed many miracles and healed people, it seems that most of his ministry would have actually taken place with his disciples. We see in the scriptures that he ate with them, he taught them, and he served them.
So why? Why community? Here are just a few reasons why it’s worth it.
“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
A healthy community breathes life, healing, and joy. It accepts you as you are, yet takes your hand and leads you forward into who God created you to be. There’s a saying that goes “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
We all want personal growth right? Nobody wants to stay where they are at. We all want to step into the fullness of who God created us to be and impact this world. Well, God often chooses to use people around you to bring about personal growth.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
There is no perfect community. It will always come with it’s challenges, conflicts, and diversity, but you will find growth, humility, vulnerability, and joy if you choose to work through it. Iron sharpening iron isn’t exactly an easy or smooth process. It takes a lot of energy and friction to work out those imperfections.
I think we can all say that we have felt that in our lives. But it is a good thing! Yes, it is often hard, but it is so worth it. Think about it, who are you the most close to? Did you have to work through conflict and disagreements to get to where you are today? Did you find that you actually felt more close after you worked through hard things than before you did?
Nothing blesses a father’s heart more than to see his children playing, caring, sharing, being kind, serving, and honoring one another. We see in the Bible that God blesses people when they choose to work together in love and unity.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Raise your hand if you want God’s blessing. Now, ask Him to lead you to a community that you can devote yourself to and plant your roots.
There is certainly a healthy way to do community and an unhealthy way, a loving way and an unloving way.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
These are instructions on how to love one another. Now, no group of people has it all together and does each of these things perfectly. We’re all learning and growing together. The point is that this is the standard we commit ourselves to. To be humble, grow and ask Jesus to transform us into His likeness and in love call our brothers and sisters to the same standard.
There’s a cost.
My favorite example of community is found in Acts 2:42-47
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
They sold their property and possessions and they gave their time in order to meet together everyday. My immediate response to this is,”Wow, that sounds awesome! Let’s do it!” But then I started thinking about the details…
…and I think about all the things in my life that I enjoy deciding on. Like, what furniture I want in my house, or what kind of clothes I wear, or what kind of food I eat. Sharing food with hundreds of people probably lowered the quality of their meals.
BUT, they “ate together with glad and sincere hearts”. I imagine this applied to every aspect of their lives, not just food. They had to lay aside their personal preferences, reject entitlement, and choose unity.
I’m not saying that God is against you having a house, or clothes, but what I am saying is that God cares more about taking care of the needs of everyone, being generous, and sharing with one another because the unity that comes when people lay down their lives in order to love and care for each other is far better than any material, property, or possessions. The goodness of community far outweighs the cost.
Do you have a community?
If you do, great, praise God!
If you don’t, that’s okay, just pray and ask God to lead you to one. I believe He cares about this even more than we ever could and He is faithful to lead us.