Over the past several weeks, while thinking heavily about ministry and about the Christian life, I found myself frequently landing on ideas surrounding community and the significance of doing life with others. So that we’re all on the same page, when I say community what I mean is a group of people, unified through Christ, who love and care for one another and who help each other grow.
As a single person, community can be difficult to find. Couples are often invited by other couples to do things together, especially if they have children around the same ages. If I didn’t have my Community Group, which is a subgroup of my church family, I don’t know that I would have very much community fellowship in my life at all. And I want it, though I’m an introvert who values quiet, alone time. So I ask myself why? What is it in me that desires connection with others? What does it matter whether I do life with fellows or not?
The answer, in short: God designed me that way. Part of creating us in His image is giving us the need for relationships with Him and with others. God exists in perfect unity and fellowship with Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that same characteristic is instilled in us. We all desire fellowship with others, whether a little (wanting a close friend or two) or a lot.
The problem is, while God exists in perfect fellowship with Himself, we do not have perfect fellowship with Him or with others because of sin. This makes developing and maintaining relationships hard and time-consuming. Pride, fear, and past hurts often cause us to shy away from opening up to others, which makes it difficult to form and cultivate real connections. It’s simply safer and far less work to keep things superficial. But still the need for real, lasting relationships exits and must be addressed. Failure to truly connect with others can have devastating consequences such as an increase in the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and negative self-image. The good news is, because of Jesus, we can have genuine fellowship with one another. It won’t be perfect until He returns, but the gospel unites us in a unique, solid way.
I know I’m a better Christ-follower and church member because of my community group. It meets on Thursday nights. We eat, we laugh, we talk about life and God’s Word…we truly fellowship. It’s not always easy because people are busy and often don’t agree about everything, but it’s worth it to gather with a group of sinners redeemed by Jesus and encourage one another as we live life together and build one another up in Christ. I know that these people have my back, pray for me, and are there for me when I need anything. Even those who have moved on for one reason or another still contact me every so often to see how I’m doing or encourage me.
So, don’t isolate yourself. You were designed to live in community with fellow believers. Connect even when it’s hard. Be there for others even when you’re busy. Be willing to work things out when you disagree instead of jumping ship. The Christian life is meant to be lived with others.