Over the past couple years, I had an experience – one that crystalized the importance of community in my heart and mind. I want to share that experience with you in this article.
I left institutionalized religion almost two years ago, after being a part of it since infancy. To be clear though, I did not leave the church, the real church. I didn’t leave the universal body of believers and followers of Jesus Christ.
Since leaving the institution, I enjoyed not having to wake up early on a Sunday and rushing to get to the building we called “church”. I took pleasure in actually resting on the weekends.
However, while all that was cool, I started to realize something else was slowly happening – something that was not so wonderful and favorable.
I started to feel like the fire and passion I had in my relationship with God was waning a little.
I wasn’t as inclined to study scripture, and I wasn’t praying as often as I used to. I sometimes got lost in cellphone games and Netflix series.
Now you may be tempted to chalk that up to being “a personal problem”. You may say that I should have chosen to do things that would have kept my passion alive.
To some extent, you’re right; but the bigger issue was that I had become isolated from other believers.
The truth is, we were never meant to take the journey of faith alone. God’s desire was always that we walk in relationship, firstly with Him, then also with others.
This is a common thread throughout the scriptures, and when that element of our Christian walk is missing, it’s easy to find ourselves in a shaky condition.
If we’re going to wax strong in our faith, we must forge relationships with other people who have decided to follow Christ.
We need a village, a community, a group of folks who have set their hearts on the same aim as us.
There are benefits to having these relationships, and I want to share a few of those benefits with you. This list is by no means exhaustive, but these things have helped me in my own journey.
Safety and Accountability
Nature gives us some insight into the importance of staying within the community. When a lion is hunting, he preys on the gazelle that gets separated from the herd.
Think about the times that you’ve messed up. You’ll likely see that those were times when you weren’t connected to the people who could cover you in prayer or be there to help you escape a temptation.
They were probably times when you’d become separated from the herd.
Surrounding yourself with trustworthy people who you can be vulnerable with and confess your faults to, people who commit to helping you stay focused on Jesus – especially in moments of weakness – is a lifeline in your Christian walk.
Sometimes we can be limited in our understanding of what God is revealing. No one person has the full counsel of God.
So, it’s good to have others around us who can share their thoughts and ideas with us. The beauty is that God, in His wisdom, has allowed us to see from different vantage points; and when we come together and communicate what we see and understand, it gives us a clearer picture of what He’s trying to convey to us.
Have you ever been in a room full of people who are hungry for God? Have you ever felt the energy that pulsates through a place where people are burning with passion for Jesus? You would realize that, while in that kind of environment, something happens to you. You begin to burn too.
If you put a live coal and a dead one together, the dead coal will begin to burn.
If we want to be on fire for Jesus, it really helps to surround ourselves with people who are burning for Him. When we get with people like that, an unexplainable and divine transfer happens. Impartation takes place.
Love is the thing that caused God to take on the form of a man.
Love caused Jesus to walk with His disciples, teaching them the right way to do life.
Love caused Him to look on people with compassion, heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, and preach the kingdom.
Love is the thing that took Him to the cross to take the punishment for our faults.
Love is the thing that had Him spend three days in the grave.
Love is what caused Him to rise to life again.
Love is what He said would be the trait that would cause us to be identified as His disciples.
If you’ve ever met anyone who has really been transformed by Jesus, you can feel and see His love being demonstrated through them.
You would definitely want to be in the company of folks like that.
I value that scripture that says we shouldn’t forsake the assembling with other believers. In my opinion, I don’t believe that scripture means that we should have scripted services on Sundays or Wednesdays. I understand it to mean that there is great value in building relationships with other persons who have said “yes” to Jesus.
I believe that God wants us to build families, villages, communities of believers who are focused on loving Him and one another.
I believe He wants us to find people to whom we can give, and from whom we can receive, the benefits I’ve listed.
Can you think of any other benefits that come from being a part of a Christian community?
Be sure to leave a comment below!