Purpose in Community
“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed; ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:41-45, New International Version)
Community is one of the most overlooked necessities in a Christian’s life. As Christian women it can be easy to avoid community due to past hurts or insecurities that are harbored. Relationships with other women aren’t always the easiest and most graceful things to accomplish. There can be jealousy, negative talk, and pride that gets in the way. Living life with imperfect people can be hurtful, but God has made community for very purposeful reasons. We are not created to live alone, we are created to be surrounded by believers who will encourage, love, and carry our burdens. Community is not an optional call from God, it is a necessity for living out the Christian life. Without other believers we would not be able to overcome the troubles that life throws at us. The passage in Luke demonstrates two specific attributes that community with other Christian women should harbor; encouragement and the recognition of promise.
As Mary entered Elizabeth’s house the promise that Mary was pregnant with was uplifted and encouraged through the affirmation of Elizabeth. Elizabeth was also pregnant at the time, with a very influential child as well. John the Baptist was to prepare the way for Jesus, but would not receive the same assignment as Mary’s seed would. John was preparing the way, but Jesus was the Son of God. Elizabeth could have positioned her heart towards jealousy. It would have been easy for Elizabeth to ask God why she wasn’t pregnant with the Son of God or He didn’t give her children when she was younger like He did for Mary. But instead her initial reaction was to encourage and uplift her cousin. There will be times that other women will get the call or the gifting that you wanted for your life. There will be times that you are jealous of people in your church. But the purpose of community is not for you to compare yourself to other people. The purpose of community is to edify the body of Christ not to glorify yourself.
Mary must have been terrified. She must have thought “how am I going to explain to my cousin, the wife of a priest, that I am pregnant and unmarried.” Mary chose to go and visit her cousin Elizabeth because she needed encouragement for the time in her life that was about to take place. The Bible tells us that Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. I truly believe that part of this was to build Mary up before she entered a world of disbelievers and mockers. As women in Christ we need to have a reputation of encouragement. We need to be able to cheer on our sisters despite the situation. Encouragement and affirmation are essential to the building up of the church body. Our Bible sets the gift of encouragement at the same level as prophesying, serving, teaching, and giving.
“We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving let him serve; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of other, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12: 6-8, NIV)
In the passage above, Elizabeth recognized the promise in Mary’s life. The second Mary walks through that door Elizabeth declares a blessing over Mary’s life. She recognized that Mary was pregnant with promise and announced with confidence the purpose that Mary’s life had. When is the last time you recognized a talent or gifting in your sister? Elizabeth didn’t keep it to herself when the baby within her leaped. Instead she become vocal about what the Holy Spirit revealed to her. Be vocal about the strengths you see in people, and surround yourself with women who are vocal about your strengths. Look for women of promise and connect yourself with them. My grandma has the most amazing saying “if you want to soar like an Eagle why are you pecking the ground like a chicken?” Connect yourself with people who have a purpose driven life. If you are connecting yourself with women who are not living a life of promise maybe it’s time you revaluate who you want to spend the majority of your time with. As women of promise we are called to a higher calling than what the world has for us. Don’t get caught trying to keep up with a chicken mentality when God has called you to soar like an eagle. Be a woman of faith that lifts people up through positive influence, not a woman of the world that brings people down to her level.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2)
As Christians we need to be Elizabeth’s and Mary’s. As Elizabeths we need to vocalize the promise of God on people’s lives. We need to connect ourselves with women who have dreams and goals of furthering the kingdom. As Marys we need to be connecting ourselves with women that are going to encourage and uplift us. Connect yourself with women that are going to encourage and promote your walk with Christ not cause sin to reign in your life.