We should be the best at community. Yes, you and I—we should be the best at community.
Here’s why—community not only reflects the heart of God, but community reflects the nature of God. God the father, the son and the Holy Spirit are in constant community. Although separate, they are one. When God was creating the heavens and the earth, the birds in the air, night and day, He said that it was good.
“Then God said, 'Let US make man’ in OUR image, after our likeness.” When He was creating man, it was the first time He said it was not good—not good for man to be alone. So God created woman as an answer to aloneness, and together Adam and Eve had community. They not only had community with one another, but they experienced community with God. Scripture goes on to say they were both naked and were not ashamed.
This is what community looked like before the fall of man. Community was intimate, free of boundaries and insecurities. Community was the very fabric of our existence.
Before you start thinking I’m signing up to be on the next episode of the tv show, Naked and Afraid, let me reassure you that I am not. But imagine with me for a moment what that must have felt like—to be a part of community so pure and so honest.
When I think about the world we live in today, a time when you and I can communicate with anyone at any given time in any place of the world, we could easily presume that community is stronger than any other time in history.
But community is hard to find, even in the context of church culture.
Studies show that people today feel more alone and isolated than ever before. Although they are in proximity to others, they are not in community.
Community is much more than posting a picture of you at small group; but rather, it is more about letting down the walls of your heart and inviting others in. It’s not so much about brushing shoulders with people at work or at church, but more about considering others, pausing and investing in the lives of those we come in contact with.
So, if we as the church ought to be the best at community, how come that’s not always the case?
Here are three reasons why we don’t often find ourselves in community.
Busyness. “I just don’t have time!” Our schedules are filled to the brim with things to do—whether for our job, our kids school project (that we get suckered into finishing), church commitments…the list goes on and on. We say yes to a lot of things, which inevitably prevents us from community. We believe the lie that in a few weeks life is going to “slow down” and then we will have more time. We know that life never decides to slow down on its own.
But, the good news friends is this—you and I are in control of our schedules and we can change the narrative of our lives being busy to our lives being intentional. I encourage you to look at your current commitments and evaluate how you spend your time. Ask yourself, is this valuable, is this fruitful, is this necessary? I believe as you invite the Holy Spirit to reveal to you these answers, you will have the courage to make necessary changes to create margin for community.
Fear. “I have a problem trusting people!” We have been bruised, let down by others and have experiences that scream, “IF YOU DON’T LET THEM IN, THEY CAN’T HURT YOU.” I have been there, friend. In an effort to not be let down by others, I have figuratively shut the door on others. And while I understand how scary it can be to trust others and to down our walls that we have built overtime, we were meant to do life in the context of community.
I think about some of the greatest friendships I have right now, many of them came on the other side of betrayal and being hurt by others. Had I listened to the fear to live life small, I wouldn’t have these friendships that I treasure deeply. Maybe the same is for you—what beautiful, life-giving friendship is waiting for you on the other side of this pain? I encourage you to be wise, guard your heart, but resist the temptation to build walls that keep others out.
Immaturity. “It’s their job to befriend me!” I am a mom of three and there are times when my husband goes out of town for work. I am left at home with all the things to do, including taking the dogs for a walk and taking the trash out—two things I don’t love to do. One particular time I had my own pity party about how no one had reached out to me or asked if they could help me! As I sulked with my arms folded, I realized something: If I am feeling this way, others must have too.
So, instead of just making a list of those who could have displayed strong community to me, I began to think through who in my life could I be community to. Often times we are waiting for others to be our friends and place unrealistic expectations on them to be someone or something to us. But, let me encourage you to be the one who notices. Be the friend you desire to have. Scripture says if you want a friend, be a friend!
Community is necessary, it’s fun, it’s life-giving and yields fruit in our life! I am a better wife, mom, leader and writer because of community! Community isn’t easy, in fact it’s messy, but it’s so worth it. Community is a part of who we are and how we were designed to do life. Don’t do life alone, but open the door of your heart and your home and invite others in. Be a friend, make a friend, and just watch how big and beautiful your life will become. We are better together!