We were never meant to go it alone …
When God made the world, in the beginning, He brought all of the animals before Adam and then stated, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable to him.”
Can you just let that truth sink in a bit? Here we have Adam and God. God walked in the garden, clearly spoke, and fellow shipped with Adam, yet, it wasn’t enough. God said, it was not good for him to be alone. In that reasoning God made Eve. His perfect compliment and even from before “the fall” we were made to live in community.
Community is a good thing yet after the fall our hearts have gone wrong in many ways. Sin abounds. We hurt one another and our temptation comes to fight or flee. We think we will do better, be better, on our own. Yet, God did not desire this for us because it was not for our very best selves.
I have been studying …
at CCEF to earn my biblical counseling certificate and part of that process is counseling people. There are various areas of brokenness but all of them involve community. So how is it that the thing that has the propensity to hurt you so badly is such a good thing?
God is community at His very core. God, three in one, is community. He did not need anything else, yet, in His love He created us. First Adam, then Eve. Quickly humans began to fall into greater depravity. We were made in the image of God but we are not like God. We can never measure up to His goodness in community, however, we have the perfect example to look to in Him.
To live in community we must be good forgivers and must be willing to humble ourselves. Naturally in and of ourselves we cannot do these things well or in any lasting manner except through the power of Christ. He took a drastic measure to redeem us; the unseemingly unredeemable. The very image of God through Christ came to save his image bearers by living the perfect life we could not live and becoming the final sacrifice for all sin.
Now that is some love. Coming to rescue those who do not love you so that those who do not could. He came so our hearts could turn from stone to flesh. He came so we could be forgivers because we have been forgiven and so that we could be lovers because we know what it is to be loved. That is how you do community. Not perfectly but little by little relying on what Christ did for us with that perfect sacrifice. Not only death on the cross but resurrection from the dead. He is the God who resurrects things that seem dead and that can include relationships.
The book of Hebrews …
is discussing Christ’s sacrifice once and for all and reassuring the believer in this in Chapter 10, then in verse 24 it states,
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Consider here is a Greek word that means to consider attentively.
Stir up here is a Greek word meaning incite or irritation.
We are being encouraged because of our confidence in what Christ has done to attentively think about how to seriously stir up others in our community toward love and good works. All the while as we await His coming. We need one another to continually encourage our fickle hearts! When I am discouraged you can encourage me in these truths. I need to be reminded and I will remind you as you need reminding. It is the beauty of community.
The problem is that
some are in the habit of abandoning community …
I am speaking this problem to myself. When I feel hurt my core desire is to just abandon the community and nurse my own wounds. I reason, I don’t really need them anyway. However, this is dangerous territory because it is in this place that it is easier to run into the arms of sin instead of the arms of God.
Community should be considering how they can stir up that lack of love into welcoming and authentic love and good works. They should be encouraging the weak but in order to encourage the weak we must have eyes to see them and take notice. We must have hearts to love. We must pursue them.
In some of these relationships I have been counseling …
I am seeing a lack of community involvement. There is not an authentic honesty where the people can be who they really are, warts and all, in community. The problem is they are either not connected anywhere like this or they are in a place where play acting is happening. It is very easy to play dress up and pretend all is well when it is not. That is not in anyway encouraging. Pretending is not a part of authentic community. And honestly we don’t have time for it because the time of His coming is drawing closer.
After the verses from Hebrews about community there is a warning about sinning deliberately and its seriousness. Then a word of encouragement of when they were enlightened with the truth and how Jesus is coming back for us so we are to persevere in this. Then all of Hebrews 11 is example after example of those who have gone before us who have lived by faith. These are a community of people through the ages we can glean encouragement from. People who were not perfect but were perfected in the Perfect one because of their faith in His saving grace.
Then Hebrews 12:1-4 states,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or faint-hearted.”
Then after we are encouraged by the community of saints, we see Jesus again. We are pointed to Him. We are told to run with endurance the race set before us — looking to Jesus. Why looking to Jesus?Because He is the perfecter and founder of our faith. He is the one who lived the perfect life we could not and endured death on the cross because it meant life for us. If we consider Him and what He did out of love for His bride, we can be encouraged to do it too. We can love our enemies because he loved us first. We can persist in community because He lead the way for it. We can forgive because we have been forgiven. We can persevere because He gives us grace to endure the race as we look to Him.
Then following we are reminded again of God’s familial love toward us. God’s discipline toward those He loves. And in verses 14-15 state, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it no one will fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
You see, community is not perfect …
Community is a place where sinners live. Sinners hurt others. We are all sinners so we all do it but as we learn to live by His grace we can look a little more like Him as we learn to forgive and die more and more to our selfishness. If we persist to stay connected and be honest about our real selves with some others where we are brave enough to confess our sins to one another we will be healed. This is His promise. We will be whole. We will be okay until He returns for us because He is molding a people who are ready and it takes each one of us to fulfill that process. So stay connected to community for the sake of Christ. It can be beautiful. And it is a beautiful bride He is coming back for soon.
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