I believe I have a post that will absolutely bless each one of you whether you’re reading it the day it goes live or ten years from now. I’m praying that God’s Word would stand out far above and beyond any clever things I think I have to say. I also pray for everyone reading, that the Spirit of God would be cultivating your heart even now to receive what He wants to speak to you!
If you’re around me for any length of time, you’ll realize I’m big on community. I mean like really doing lifewith people. Now I love (looooooooove) my alone time, and I’m sure many of you do, too. But living planted in community doesn’t mean that you have to be the most outgoing extrovert who’s constantly on the go and surrounded by people 99% of the time (that 1% only being the time it takes to shower). If that were the case, you’d literally never hear me talk about community.
Around my church, we hear the phrase “doing life together” a whole lot. I used to wonder why we used such a corny phrase all the time, but as I got more involved, I realized how disconnected people live. Chicago is a big city, and people are constantly on the go. I understood why it was so important to emphasize the fact that we do life together. People really out here doing life alone! Well, that’s no fun, it’s not healthy, and it’s not the way God designed us.
Having good relationships with our own family and friends outside of church may cause some to dismiss the need to form deep relationships with people in church community. Others may be fiercely independent, and just don’t see the importance of community. While it’s easy to keep “church friends” in their own box while you do the rest of your life, you’re not doing the best thing for yourself or for the Kingdom of God.
We are one body
When we decided to become a Christian, we became part of thebody of Christ. (maybe nobody warned you, but now ya know! Hey fam!) The body is connected and functions and moves as one because it’s all attached. Once something is detached or even slightly detached from the body, it’s not right; in fact, it’s dead. And the rest of the body suffers when one part is suffering. We’re not at our best without each other.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:4-5
God has not created us to do anything alone. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but ... members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). The Christian walk isn’t you and God or me and God, it’s usand God. Even the God we worship shows himself as community (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and he brings us together to be one.
Safety in community
1 Peter 5:8 cautions us: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Who exactly can the enemy devour? Not anyone and everyone; he’s looking for those who he candevour. Lions are not necessarily as fast or active or even as smart as some of the animals they hunt and devour. But lions watch long enough to know when they can strike. They don’t strike at animals that are in the center or at the head of the pack. They look for a moment when an animal is slightly separated from the pack. That’s an easy target. Our safety is jeopardized when we stray from the pack (our church community), making us a target for the enemy.
Don’t stray. Don’t hang around the edges. Stay at the center of what God is doing in your community of believers. Be fully present and fully engaged, willing to be brave enough to open yourself to others, both in joining with others and by being one who actively opens up and draws people in.
Tips on building community
Build real community
Those closest to us need to have God as their closest, too. We need people who are going to be chasing God as much as we are or more, and we need people who are going to be able to guard us and hold us up in our times of weakness. You’ll never find the same richness, connectedness, grace, love and depth that you will find in healthy, Christian relationships.
“In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:22
A unified church community will see the hand of God in incredible ways that cannot be replicated without the Spirit of Him, who established the Church.
People aren’t the real problem
Nothing worthwhile comes without challenges. Folks are challenging! Let’s not pretend we’re not (I have my days). But remember: PEOPLE ARE NOT OUR ENEMY. Being hurt hurts, but honestly it’s not those people who are after us. It’s a distraction of the actual enemy, Satan our adversary. Let’s be aware of the real enemy who is after our faith and peace and joy. Let’s stop being distracted by fighting the wrong fights. Focus on seeking God and cultivating relationships others, our actual focus is to build His kingdom and make His Name known.
“That’s just how I am” is not a legitimate excuse to keep your walls high up.
Change. There’s a whole million-dollar industry out there on change, yet Christians should be the number one example of change and transformation. That’s part of what the Holy Spirit gives us! The fruit of the spirit should be increasingly obvious in our lives. “Just how I am” doesn’t stand against the transforming power of His Word and Spirit.
Just as God brought the Hebrews out of Egyptian bondage to be a community of people to show the world who the true God is, so He also has called us out to be His special people. Let’s recognize that in each other. Those other believers you are surrounded by are the people God pulled out of bondage and brought into a community of His people. Look at their stories and your own and marvel at how God put these all together for His purpose to be done. We’re not just like all other people on earth. We’re His and we’re a family.
TFF community! My name is Eboné (yup, sounds like Ebony + Beyoncé. I know. I’m great.) and I blog over at keepitsimpleeb.com where I like to share ways I’m learning to keep life simple as a Jesus-lovin’, coffee-powered, city-dwelling millennial. Check it out if you have time!