We were never meant to tread this life alone - The importance of community

When asked to speak in front of a large group and share my heart on the importance of community the first emotion I felt was excitement. That alone is a huge testament to God’s great work in my life. I am not a public speaker and I more often than not see myself as a baby Christian clinging to God’s coat tails but being up there and feeling that new sense of confidence in Christ’s work in my life speaks volumes on the subject of God’s use of community in my life.

As I’ve fallen more deeply into the hands of Christ, my self-image has drastically changed but as I’ve fallen into the hands of God’s purpose for community I’ve finally started to see myself as Jesus does, through the eyes of the Christian family I’ve surrounded myself with.  

They’ve taken the time to show me how much I’ve grown when I couldn’t see it myself and they have been the audible voice of God telling me I am worth more than I thought I was. The most rewarding part of community for me is seeing the work of Christ in my life and the wisdom he is blessing me with shine onto the people around me. Being able to see that I am not just a seed to be planted but that I am planting seeds and in this new stage of my journey I’m so blessed to be able to see those seeds growing around me.

“Christian community is simply sharing a common life in Christ. It moves us beyond the self-interested isolation of private lives and beyond the superficial social contacts that pass for Christian fellowship. The biblical ideal of community challenges us instead to commit ourselves to life together as the people of God.”
-         -Howard Macy

True Christian community matures us so that we don’t get tossed around by false teachers and glamorous bible salesmen. It allows us to be a light to the world and allows others to actually see Christ here, through us. It provides a place for prayer and worship, a place to serve, a place to encourage others and to be encouraged, and most importantly a place to bring honor and glory to God.

Each and every woman was born with an almost unquenchable desire for intimate relationship. God made us this way because he wants us to seek after an intimate and passionate relationship with Him. He has given us community with our husbands, our children, and other believers to draw us into that relationship with him.

John 17:22-23
“The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them as you loved me.” 

These are the words of Jesus to God for us.

For me seeing this vision for community brings me a sense of hope I never had before. It comforts that innate human flaw that tries to convince me that I am not worth it and it brings truth into the lies I’ve always believed, that relationships and friendships are conditional and fleeting.  God’s vision for community is so much more than what we are experiencing and more than we can even imagine. A family of people so madly in love with Jesus that we wash each other’s feet daily and even die for one another. A love so pure and unconditional. The way that Jesus walked with his disciples was our example of how we are supposed to walk with each other. The relationship and unity between God and Jesus was given to us on the cross to have. There is no longer a veil keeping us from perfect unity and relationship with each other and with God because now when God looks at us he sees Jesus and this is what we are supposed to show the world through our relationships with each other.
Ephesians 4:11-16
  "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds[a] and teachers,[b] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."

We are made to be in unity, in community, in intimate Christian relationships so that we can grow into Christ. We are the body parts that make up God’s new vision of Christ on earth now and when we all work in unison we become the image of Christ, of pure love.

This is the importance of community.   

So what does God want this community to look like?

Acts 2:42-47
 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were bring saved.”

We are called to devote ourselves to the gospel, to the teachings of Jesus. To unite into a family focused on Christ day by day. We are called to serve others and like Jesus did we are called to lay our lives down for others. When we start to follow God’s vision for community an “awe will come upon our souls” we will perform “many wonders and signs”, we will be together and have “all things in common”, we will have “glad and generous hearts”, and we will have “favor with all people.”

I think one of the most amazing lessons Jesus teaches us on community, and that if we really take the time to focus on can completely transform and flip over the often honest stigma that comes with Christian fellowship of judgmental clichyness, is that we all have all things in common and we are all the same. We can come into this community and be welcomed and loved exactly where we are. That’s how Jesus takes us and how can we ask more? There should be no separation based on wealth, or whether our marriages are flourishing or falling apart. There should be no separation based on age or worldly value or attractiveness. Whether you come from royalty or you just spent 20 years in prison this should be a family that you can be welcomed into with open and loving arms. Without judgment and fear. Jesus sets this example for us when he came to a world full of sin to be a literal sacrifice for us when he himself was sinless.

Hebrews 2:11
“For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers…”

We are all children of God, we have all sinned and fallen short, and we are all offered forgiveness and perfect love in Christ. There are no social ladders to climb here. When we step into the family of Christ we enter in as broken people redeemed by the grace of Jesus alone.

Jesus set this amazing example of community for us. He set the stage and left us with a detailed manual on how to live it out and all we need to do is take ahold and run with it.

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