The idea and topic of community has been a well-visited thought for me recently. Recent events that transpired at the seminary I attended reminded me, once again, how much we truly need authentic community. There was something special about New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Most of us bonded through our evacuation/hurricane stories but aside from situational community we also benefited from what I like to call proximity community. We lived, stuffed into little apartments, at each others doorsteps. We often prepared meals together, drank morning coffee together and prayed together. It wasn’t uncommon to physically gather for prayer when we were struggling. As you can imagine it can be difficult to find authentic community after experiencing authentic “proximity” community. Staying plugged into our church, serving and leading small groups has definitely helped us but I’ve discovered, after being a part of many small groups, that community has to be intentional to be effective. Intentional in that you sacrifice, walk with, protect, hold accountable and love those you choose to be in community with.
Community without sacrifice is just hanging out. As the world changes around us, as the moral compass of our country declines; our community will become essential to our survival in an increasingly difficult climate. At times walking in close community with each other is uncomfortable. When we allow others to provide accountability they become privy to the sensitive details of our lives. We rely on them and they rely on us.
Human nature, at times, pulls away from anything that makes us feel vulnerable. But God’s design for the community of believers is clear.
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (good gracious! does this verse not speak to us in the present!)
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
To be honest, there is nothing special I can add to the discussion about the merits of community. There are books upon books about why small groups and community are imperative to the Christian walk. However, I can say that I value my people more and more every day. My bible study girls on an ever-notifying group text. My small group, where sometimes it seems we have little in common but are learning to lean on each other through life and love each other deeply. My adoptive momma community that “get its” when no one else does. My “old friend” group where we don’t see each other as much as we should…. but when we do our conversations prove that our values align and we will walk through anything together.
Reading the paragraph above fills my heart with joy. There was a time when I found myself resisting these types of relationships out of fear, and even comfort. It is often easier to focus on the business of family life. But iron sharpens iron and sometimes I just need to talk to another mom in confidence and sometimes I can help one of my sisters as she struggles through doubt and worry. We are all hurting, sinning, hard-to-love at times people. But we are better together. We are better when we see that we were never meant to walk alone. And today and in the days that come we will need each other more than ever.