As I write this I’m sitting at our eldest son Ben’s soccer practice. The field is full of young people all intent on their training and honing of their skills. But all around the outside of the field are the parents and families who wait and watch their youngsters. Of particular notice is one group which is always larger than the rest. They sit on the grass with their picnic chairs and blankets each night. There is food, drinks, two dogs, and what looks to be the parents, grandparents, more relatives and friends. They eat, drink, chat, laugh, and relax as they watch the training sessions. They undoubtedly have their own little community and social group.
It made me think about how communities are so important, because they allow people to interact with each other, share experiences, develop valued relationships and work toward a common goal. Without communities, people often live isolated lives with minimal or no contact outside of their immediate circle.
God has made us to be social beings, and to be active and thrive not only with our friends, but by being actively involved in our local community. It helps us feel less lonely, have a more interesting life, stay healthy and feel happier. God designed us to fulfill our purpose in the context of community, because people thrive when they are connected, and being supported or offering support.
With technology, our ability to travel further from our homes, online social sites, virtual worlds, chat, and text messaging its easy to become alienated from people and needing to relate face to face. Its a modern day reality that people rely on their computers and other technology for connection to others. This can be beneficial, but if it is the primary method of us participating in a community, we can easily become detached from our local physical world, which is unhealthy for both us and society as a whole.
We may not like to acknowledge it, especially if we have been hurt or let down by others, but we are better together. We are stronger, healthier, more compassionate, tolerant and patient when we establish ourselves in a community. When left to ourselves for too long, it is very easy to become intolerant of other people, and to get into the habit of just wanting things the way we like them. As I say, “it would be easy to be a patient, kind, self-controlled person all the time if we didn’t have to relate to anyone else.” But that’s not the real world, nor is it particularly healthy. We grow and develop into all that God has made us to be when we have to put our beliefs, values and faith into action whilst relating to others. God often uses those moments to choose to fine tune our patience, love, kindness, and self control, and especially when others may be “rubbing us the wrong way” or we are under pressure. The bible even says that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. God often uses those irritating people to be the making of us!
When Jesus ministered with his disciples he formed a community. They walked, talked, worked, celebrated and shared together as they reached out to help, heal, deliver and encourage those in their wider community.
In our modern world we still desparately need to be in a close knit community such as the one Jesus formed with His first followers. We are made to talk with one another, to walk and work alongside others, to celebrate and to share our lives in community. Plus the world still needs those close knit groups to look around and see how they can help, heal, and be agents of change, transformation and blessing to their wider community.
The truth is that when we belong to, and are actively involved in a healthy, loving, community such as the one Jesus formed, we will impact and literally change the world. That’s the example and blueprint Jesus gave us, and when followed its impact still has the ability and power to change people’s lives and the world.
As Jesus said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the message of Gods good news to one and all” (Mark 16:15 The Message)
Today, don’t close yourself or your gifts and abilities off from the world. Step out and get involved in your community. Connect up with Jesus followers in your area, meet your neighbors, get involved in community events, join a group or club, volunteer, throw a street party, spend time with others away from your computer, television and other technology. It takes effort, but the benefits are far reaching for not just us, but all those around us. So smile and get involved today.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Prayer: Lord help me to understand that you have made me for community, and that even if I find it difficult or time consuming at times, that being involved in community is vital for my health and well being. Please show me where I can get involved and connect more today. In Jesus name Amen