I love golf. I have been playing for about 22 years now and the game has taught me a lot. Golf is unique because it is an individual sport. I have been on golf “teams” but even then we are just the sum of our individual contributions. This tendency to try and “go it alone” leaks into my walk with Jesus and the consequences are unsettling.
Here’s the thing: Following Jesus is not an individual endeavor. The Church does not function well when we fly solo. I do not function well as a member of the Church when I choose to fly solo.
I need community. We all need community.
But first, what is community?
One definition of community is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
A second definition is “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common”
For our purposes, our definition of community is a combination and simplification that is best understood as “a committed group of Christ followers navigating life together.”
Seems simple enough, right? Yet I still struggle in isolation. We still struggle without community.
Why is that though? Why is it that I struggle when I am isolation? Why do I need community?
In Scripture we discover some answers to these questions –
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Being created in the image of God truly means something. We carry His imprint whether we like it or not. The thing about God is that He is relational. His relationship with the Son and Holy Spirit was always there.
Just think, the idea of relationship always was.
As carriers of His likeness, we are wired for relationship. Relationship with Him and with others around us. The context for this relationship is found in a community setting.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 10
Allow me to share an illustration most of us can relate to – Have you ever gone to a theme park alone? Ever been to a movie alone? I have done both and I can honestly say that my experience was not nearly as fulfilling as any time I went with someone else. Life is a lot like that as well. When I go to theme parks, my motto is the more the merrier because it is so much fun to experience theme parks with a host of friends! We are better together!
A life lived in community is fun, but it also has some other very real benefits.
Consider this illustration – Have you ever witnessed a friend making a bad decision that you knew would result in pain/suffering?
You know what I am talking about. This person is convinced they are making a good decision and are blind to any alternatives. Or maybe you have been that person. I know I have. I know I have had the blinders on and when I crashed I inevitably said “well I didn’t see that coming”.
But you know who did? The people that knew me best. My close friends and family in many cases.
We all have blind spots. A community can protect us from those blind spots and help us to make wise decisions.
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
When I was in Basic Training, I learned very early on that I was no longer an individual. The Army has a way of beating that out of you. Any action that can be perceived as an individual action was met with swift punishment. We always did things as a team. The smallest unit was a group of two and your partner was called your “Battle Buddy”. My battle buddy was a guy named PVT Addison. We both learned early on that we had to rely on each other. I needed him, and he needed me.
The Church is like that.
I need community, and community needs me. There are blind spots that I can clear. There are bits of wisdom and insight that I can share to save someone pain and suffering. And then there are wonderful experiences that we can celebrate together!
You are the same. People need you. You are valuable. Jesus can and will use you.