The Cost of Community

Thursday, March 22, 2012 Posted by Sara

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The hands in the picture are ones I treasure.  They belong to a small group of missionaries who called a rink-a-dink town in Southern Illinois home for four years.  These are the hands of my “spiritual family” who have taught me some of the most precious lessons about community.  Each one wears a ring crafted in Israel, etched with a verse in Hebrew that communicates what God taught us in our season together.  Mine reads, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

As a group of missionaries we worked, lived, worshiped, and served together.  And although our situation was unique, I believe so many of the lessons I learned about community are those many find in family, small groups, and churches.  Communities in Christ are meant to release the Kingdom – to reveal God to those within, and those around. Community is powerful.  But it can also be costly.

For me, community cost me that safe little box I lived in.  It was such a nice box.  Like the big refrigerator boxes you could make little houses out of.  I could sit in my box and observe the world.  I could hide. I could be silent.  No one would really mind.

But community wouldn’t let me hide.  It required I find my voice.  It demanded participation. It necessitated vulnerability and honesty. It cost me pride and convenience and selfishness. But in the end, I discovered life outside the box was freeing – and doing life with other people tangibly revealed amazing things about Jesus.

Community demonstrated to me His forgiveness, His patience, His concern, His care. Community showed me that He had time for me and wanted to know me. Community taught me it was okay to be in process, to be messy, and still receive His love. Community stirred dreams and giftings within me, and encouraged me to walk them out. Community sharpened my spiritual walk, and continues to lead me in knowing my Lord more and more.

One of my beloved sisters in this little flock I know once said (paraphrased), “You know you have found community when, if struggles come, you begin to run towards one another, not away.” 

I don’t think I have any grand advice on forging community or finding it – I think perhaps the best place to start is to ferociously love the people God has put around you. Core Groups, Small Groups and the like are great places to begin to dig into life with others, as long as they are safe spaces for you to actually be vulnerable (this can take time).

So I sign off today with a prayer – Father, you are the ultimate family man, and we are the blessed children you have lavished your love upon.  I pray God, that the church would have a revelation of the power of community – that community reflects your glory and draws people to You – that it is one of the most powerful testimonies the world will see – a people operating in the love of God. Teach us to walk in Your ways, Lord.

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