We are better together. We were meant for community, to live side by side and share the triumphs and tragedies of life with the people that God has put in our lives. This is truth! I believe it to the core of my being. Why then, do I often recoil at the thought of being in community, of showing bits of myself that I would really rather hide.
I’ve been reading lately in the book of Acts about the birth of the early church. How the Holy Spirit lit a people on fire for Jesus. Throngs of believers were born as the good news of reconciliation began to take hold with the early believers. The early church did everything together.
The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread and praying… There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. Acts 2: 42 & 44 (The Voice)
The passage goes on to describe a community that works together, plays together and provides for one another. It was a community that was unified with one purpose; spreading the news of the beautiful gift of salvation that was given at the cross.
What does that mean today? How do we work together as a unified body when so much of what the world tells us is about being alone. We’re part of a culture that promotes individualism, looking out for ourselves and doing things for ourselves. With all of that noise it can be difficult to understand how we can stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters.
Life is hard, it’s messy and it can bring thinning and hurting places deep in our hearts. But, doing life alone? That’s where we struggle the most, that’s where those thinning places become the ripped-open-wide places.
Doing life alone is never how we were designed and God knew this from the beginning. Nothing has changed about our nature since Adam and Eve. We still need each other. Desperately.
So how then do we live together in a world that values isolation?
Just like the early church we need to be there for each other. We need to not only be ready to help when there is a need but willing to ask for help when struggles find their way into our own lives. Pride is built on bravado and bravado builds walls. Reaching out for help builds a bridge to hope.
We need to stop being afraid of what others think of us because all that matters when we’re living in authentic community is that we all see each other as God sees us; His children.
Let’s start building community that is centered around the scandalous grace that became ours when God slipped on human skin and allowed nails to pierce His flesh. The focus should not be on how we can benefit from each other, rather it should be on how God is moving in our midst.
Don’t be afraid to engage with others in the hurting places. Our inclination is run when suffering finds it’s way into our lives, but let’s not forget the beauty of lament. When we open ourselves up to the keening of each other’s hearts we will find God in the midst of our suffering.
Find ways to be intentional about being together with those whom God has placed in your life. Yes it will seem scary and weird taking the first step of picking up the phone, talking to the other mom on playground or the woman who stands all alone in the lobby after church. If we all waited for everyone else to take the first step we’d never get down to the business of doing life together.
However you choose to make community a priority in your life you won’t regret it! The stories of our lives were meant to be part of the bigger story of God’s work here on earth.
I’d love to hear from you! What helps you connect with community?
Tonya – Stone to Heart