Lately I've been thinking about why some things that are so essential are so difficult. One things that's been on my mind is community.
I absolutely believe that it is crucial that we live in community with other Christians. Why, then, is it so messy, so hard, and sometimes (often times) so hurtful? If we are Christ-followers, then why don't we follow His example?
Jesus loved, and He spoke truth in love. He saw past poverty and infirmity and paid no mind to society and piety - when someone was in need, He responded.
He lived in intimate fellowship with a group of friends (one of whom betrayed Him, so He understands our hurt and disappointment when community lets us down).
He gave ... oh, how He gave! He gave it all: His words, His time, His touch, His power, and ultimately His life for others, for us.
How can we do a better job living in community? Walking through life in fellowship? Here are a few verses that speak to this very question:
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Phillipians 2:1
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. James 3:17
If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins, If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. Isaiah 58:9
Living in community is something we need to commit to, fight for, and be active participants in. We need to offer ourselves - authentically, lovingly, and generously. As Isaiah writes, "Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight." Ahhh, I love that. Now that's a life that I desire.