I will not forsake a commitment to a church body, even when it is hard.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Father God, you are truly relational and so clearly reflected the fullness of the Godhead. As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you draw us into a relationship with you. By faith in your son, Jesus, and the working of the Holy Spirit, we have the privilege of becoming your children and enjoying an inheritance reserved for being in your family.
Yet, God, family is hard, whether it is by blood or by adoption or by being graphed into your body.
It seems to be our nature to desire self-sufficiency and independence, yet by your design, we really do need one another.
Help us, Lord, to be vulnerable, humble, compassionate, and sincere with one another.
Help us, Lord, to be full of grace, mercy, and forgiveness with each other.
God, give us a desire for unity in community.
Give us the ability to persevere in the family of God and embrace a commitment to fellowship, even when it is hard.
In the Strong Name of Jesus, Amen.
When you hear the word “community,” what’s the first thought that comes to mind? Do you recall that time your freezer was overstocked with casseroles after walking through that dark season? Do you see in your mind’s eye that gathering of friends to celebrate your birthday or the birth of your own child? Or is there a total blank, because you feel like you’ve not actually tasted community in the context as God designed it to be?
Through those eighteen years living at boarding school with my husband, I came to realize that beauty of a God-orchestrated community comes from doing life together around the clock. It was in our daily meals shared in the dining hall and chit-chat afterward that cultivated connection. It was in watching one another’s kiddos in a pinch and gathering together over school breaks for a potluck meal that forged friends-like-family relationships. But ultimately, it was serving one another in sickness and health, in blessings and trials, in which our connections became friendships, and our friendships became community.
See, the thing about community is that it has to be accessible in both in the good times and bad to prove itself authentic and give us a sense of belonging.
Real community happens when we show up to clean house and do laundry for a sister-in-Christ recovering from surgery.
Real community happens when we make time to connect with a small group of sisters-in-Christ and get honest about our struggles.
Real community happens when we show up wherever and whenever the family of God gathers together, even when we don’t feel like it . . . even when it’s not what we expected . . . even when there is more of us needed than we want to give.
When we make the time to invest in one another, we cultivate a community of belonging and kingdom purpose.
That kind of real community may be found outside of a church, but it doesn’t replace what God intends for the church.
I know that might not sit well with you. Maybe you’ve been one of the wounded, as I’ve heard too many horror stories of sin destroying relationships within a church community. I’ve experienced my own fair share of brokenness within the family of God — even at that boarding school and in the churches I’ve attended since coming to know Jesus in college.
Church sometimes hurts too much to want to enter through the doors again.
But I also know that by not entering, we’re potentially not engaging with the body of Christ. And when we’re not engaging, we’re missing out on a blessing that comes from God’s design for provision for community and fellowship within His family. I’m not saying we should go back to the broken places and grasp for remnants of what once was. But I am saying we ought to seek God for healing and try again, in a new church body.
He wants us connected, even if it is messy and scary. We don’t need to stay in dysfunction or endure abuse. Not at all! But we ought to pursue God for His healing, His leading, and His purposes for us within the body of Christ. Because if He calls us to it, He’s got a purpose for it.
How can you make a commitment to show up, to be a part of a community of imperfect Christians, and strive together for unity and encouragement simply by doing life together?
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