“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” [Proverbs 27:17]
If you have been around modern Christianity for even a second, you have probably heard the word “community” thrown around quite a lot. What exactly is community though? What does God say about community? Why is it important?
The truth is community looks like a lot of different things to different people. The important thing when thinking about community is not that it looks like someone else's but that you feel supported and that you are getting what you need from the people around you. Please understand I am not saying that community is something you have just to get things from people. What I am saying is that community should make you feel refreshed when you spend time together. It should lift you up when you are having a hard time. It should be people who know you—like, really know you. From what you like to eat to what makes you tick, and everything in between.
Community is a gift from God. He gives us people to enjoy and do life with, and that is amazing. I also think that beyond that, God gives us community to kind of be a mirror into ourselves. This leads us to our verse in Proverbs. Perhaps one of the most important roles of community in our lives is to help us grow and push toward the person God is forming us to be. Sometimes this means that community tells us the things we don’t really want to hear. I think it’s important to remember that usually when someone is calling us higher, it is from a place of love. When you really love someone, you want the best for them. You want them to be exactly who God made them to be. The best thing you can do for your community is to listen to what they have to say to you... both the encouragement and the critique. In the same way, be encouraging, and be someone who is willing to say the things that will help people grow.
For a few of you, this type of community is a reality, and you are set. That’s amazing. For most of you though, I would venture to guess that you are nowhere close to this. You are in a new city with a bunch of new people. Maybe no one has really stuck yet. Maybe you have a couple of friends, but you aren’t really “together” yet. That’s okay. Community that is worth it takes time. Be patient with yourself and the people around you. Never underestimate the power of prayer when it comes to community. Ask God to bring you people. His heart is for you and for community. And remember: you belong when you decide you belong. Don’t count yourself out of community before it can even start. You deserve to have people in your life who love, support and show you the heart of God.
God, thank You for the gift of community. I pray that You will surround me with people who will encourage me, support me, love me and push me toward You. I pray that You would allow me to be that for someone else. Thank You that You are preparing me a place to belong. Amen.