What does community look like for you?
Is it the place in which you live, the accumulation of the families that live on your street? Is it the people that you work with that get you through to another work day? Is it the people that you work out with, the people at the gym who push you to conquer your next fitness goal? For some, community can mean that one person, maybe the homeless man on the corner that you pass by every Wednesday that makes the meaning of life just a little more clear. That group, or even just the one person that gets you and knows exactly how to motivate you to be the best version of yourself.
For me, community stretches far and wide. When growing up in a small, tight- knit community, you form bonds with people that withstand the test of time. I have friends from high school and family friends of my parents that to this day, play an integral part in my life and the decisions I make on a daily basis. I have friends from college whom I make it a priority to see when I’m back in town and professors that I can freely go to for life and career advice. I’ve formed community in my church and my small group has played a huge role in altering how I approach each week. My gym family pushes me to be present and to take the consistent strides in bettering my health while my real family has always been there, encouraging me and having my back when I wrestle with the different seasons of life.
Whatever community looks like for you, regardless of if you are religious, believe in God, believe in a different God than myself, or believe there is a God at all, you can benefit by doing life in the company of others.
Two are better than one…
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10
9″Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Do you ever feel like you work, work, work to create a better life for yourself but nothing ever gets better? It is no secret that life can be hard and it is inevitable that we will each see our fair share of challenges and struggles in our life time, some big, some small. Not a single one of us is immune to life events that take a toll on our well-being, and more often than not, our faith. It is when we toil through life alone and attempt to face these battles by ourselves that we experience burn out and depletion, with no energy to combat our way through the struggle to see what God has in store for us at the end of that struggle.
When I think about these verses a mental picture comes to mind of a newspaper article that was published in a local paper back when I was in high school. The truest form of sportsmanship that I can remember, to date. A snapshot of two girls on a running track, one collapsed, her body limp, barely unable to keep her arm around the other girl who was carrying both of their weight and continuing on to the finish line. Here was a young girl giving up her place to ensure that an opposing team’s runner made it across the finish line. This girl was being the strength for the other when she unable to hold up on her own.
Isn’t that what community does for us? The embrace of community can be our literal support, our empowerment, our courage, our guidance when our vision for our life has been compromised, and so much more. When the weight of the world feels as if it could crush us, community builds us up and pushes us to overcome the obstacle that has been holding us back from feeling completely satisfied, the obstacle that has been creating a void in our life and kept us from experiencing true happiness. When we find the right community, one grounded and faith- filled, the good works that the Lord can set in motion through one of his children for the benefit of another is limitless. Having others that can pour into us is refreshing for the mind, body, and soul and is necessary for us to live a life pursuant of our purpose and for His glory.
As there is strength in numbers, numbers also create strength…
17″As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
The cross of Jesus Christ is transformative. As humans, it was never God’s intention for us to be stagnant or unchanging through this life. He never wanted us to be content with our position in life, to settle for what is right now or what we believe to be “as good as it is going to get.” He created us to be the best versions of ourselves, to be more like Him, to thrive and do good works in our time on Earth. If this is what God wants for us, why would we not want to position ourselves amongst others who have this same vision for themselves and for us? In the same breath, why would we not want to position ourselves among others who need to hear the message of this scripture? Community is about giving and taking in this aspect. When we learn to both give and take and push each other to be better human-beings just imagine how strong our brothers and sisters could be spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, physically, and how the places where people go to work, play, eat, rest, and pray would be drastically different.
Another piece of valuable scripture hidden in Proverbs 27 is Proverbs 27: 5-6.
5″Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6Wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Truth is a valuable thing. Sometimes we get caught up in our feelings and are quick to let suggestion or opposition turn us off. If God’s people really believe what Scripture says about the cross, they should be able to give and receive advice or constructive criticism without offense. I will be the first to admit that in certain seasons of my life I did not have the maturity to want to listen to the Holy Spirit’s call when I was headed down the wrong path. In seasons of my life I was selfish and had my own agenda and in those times I wasn’t positioning myself around community that would be honest and direct with me. In fact, I could go as far to say that some of the individuals I kept in my circle were encouragers and supported my behaviors. It took cutting these people, the noise, out of my life so that I could really lean in to what God was asking of me in clarity.
I encourage you to carve out some time to meditate on John 15:2.
2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Pruning your branch is crucial to experiencing person growth and growth in your faith. God wants to provide abundance in your life and allow you to be fruitful in your endeavors.
Find community that speaks truth into you, even when it is difficult or unwelcomed. Find community that holds you accountable for your actions and pushes you to be a better person. Be that person for someone else.
With strength comes perseverance. Never stop gathering…
Hebrews 10: 24-25
24″And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25not 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.”
If you are not experiencing community, I encourage you to go find your people. God wants you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. He never created you to live in isolation, keeping His word, something so alive, so real and so active stored away until you find a personal need for it. It was meant to be experienced and shared in communion with others. Having a relationship with others means growing in relationship with God. There are so many ways you can experience community and they all start with simply gathering, so take the first step! Extend that invitation for coffee, set up a play- date for your kids so that you benefit from the fellowship of being around other mothers, call up your buddies and arrange a pick- up game, join a small group, whatever it takes. Matthew 18:20 is all the evidence we need to support the fact that when we gather with others we invite the Holy Spirit to interject.
20″For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Invite God into your space and have fun with it. A community centered around Christ will sustain you in this life and provide so much enrichment and value to your life that you didn’t even know was at your disposal.
JOIN ME THIS SUNDAY!
NewSpring Church is delving into a series entitled “Gathering.” I hope you’ll join us in exploring the importance of gathering and discovering what can truly only be experienced when we gather among others. You can access previous sermons and watch with me LIVE this Sunday, HERE!