Why We Need Community
The idea of Christian community can either make you run for the hills or smile fondly at the depths of relationships that you have in your life. When I first became a Christian, I heard the term “community” thrown around often. Finding your community can be scary because it takes hard work, it takes vulnerability, and it takes time (lots of time). Once you find your community, however, it can feel like family and allow you to experience growth. Also, Christ never intended for us to live this life alone. No one is exempt from Christian community. You might say, “Yeah, I tried that, but no one was accepting,” or, “Community is too hard; I have a relationship with Jesus... isn’t that enough?” Or, even still, you might question, “You want me to do life with broken people? Can’t I just do it alone?” or, “I am exempt from that rule, right?”
Listen, I see you, I hear your concerns; and yet, regardless, God calls us to commune with Him in community through it all.
3 Reasons We Need Community:
1. God first modeled community within the Trinity.
God is always in community as our triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). God is three persons, yet one God. God is always in relationship; He is never lonely and is fulfilled within His own community. Since we are created to be image-bearers of our good Father God, this means we are also called to be in community as He has modeled.
2. Community calls us to come together and to encourage one another.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:24-25
Community first calls us to come together. In order to encourage one another, you first have to show up and make yourself known. This isn’t an easy task, however. It is easy to miss Sunday service, to miss bible study, or to allow busy-ness to consume our schedules. However, we are called to be cared for and known -- and that can only happen within the context of a community where we do life together. When community is centered around the pursuit of Jesus, it allows us to experience what God intended. Something powerful happens when we show up with our whole being (body, mind, and spirit) and we begin to share life together.
I have a group of girlfriends that I do life with. We don’t look alike, don’t vote alike, don’t have the same family backgrounds, etc. We even have different strengths, enneagrams, and personality types, but we journey through life together in pursuit of Jesus. We cry together, we laugh together, we eat brunch together, and we push each other to grow closer to our Savior. We talk about our sins and our struggles, and sometimes we play with puppies. We celebrate in joys and we talk about the awful parts of who we are -- and, every time, through every conversation, we trust each other to speak truth in love, even when it hurts or is uncomfortable.
3. Community brings you closer to Jesus.
When you read Mark 2: 1-12, the story of the paralytic man, it shows you the depth of how community can literally carry you through both trials and goals. The paralytic man lived his life laying on a mat, due to his physical state. Although his paralysis seemed irreversible, the paralytic man had four friends who embodied an unwavering faith. They knew they needed to take their friend to Jesus. Although Jesus was surrounded by crowds in a home, the four friends didn’t care; they pushed forward in community and did not allow the circumstances to dictate or lessen their faith. Even when they couldn’t get the paralytic man through the crowds to Jesus, they still found a way. The friends carried the man up to the roof. They tore off the roof and lowered their friend, on his mat, down to Jesus. Amidst all hardship and opposition, they knew their friend needed Jesus, and they persisted. When “Jesus saw their faith,” he forgave their sins and healed the paralytic man. Jesus was moved by the faith of the four friends; and, thus, a miracle of complete healing and restoration happened within this community.
To conclude, I want you to draw a rectangle on a piece of paper. In each corner, write down a name of someone who has not only cared for you, but has also carried you to Jesus at a time when you needed Him most. Secondly, make a list of four people that you would carry on a mat as well. My next challenge is for you to text each of those eight people. For your mat carriers, text them and thank them for the community they have surrounded you with. For those you dedicate to carrying, reach out to them to let them know, “I want to be your mat carrier; I want to be in community and fellowship with you. I want to draw you closer to Jesus and care for your needs.” Lastly, reflect on what’s keeping you on your mat. What is it that’s paralyzing you? What do you need to confess to your community, and how can you ask them for help?
Lord, I pray that we, as a body of believers, would be known and cared for within community. I pray that we would have patience to find and discover the depths of community in relationship. I ask that you give us grace for each other as broken people, and to allow us to lead others closer to Jesus. Lord, I pray that we would learn to tear through roofs for others. I pray that community would make a difference within our lives. Amen.