Living in Community
Community. That is the only word that can be used to describe my first week back home from college. While I was at Liberty I was able to attach myself to a fairly tight-knit group of people I soon called some of my greatest friends. We ate meals together, went to church and Bible studies together, and most importantly did life together. Where there was a need for prayer, it was filled. Where there was a need for conversation, words were spoken. Where there was a need for community and fellowship, the warmth of the united body of Christ embraced all in attendance.
It is a staggering thought when one looks back on all that has been left behind to pursue a path for oneself. We leave so much more than an empty room and an empty seat at the dinner table. We leave an emptiness in the hearts and lives of those that love us. As we find new friends and people to do life with, we can assume that ties with loved ones will grow strained or even sever entirely. But we can have assurance in a mutual understanding that the relationships that seek to give and not receive will prosper assuredly.
I will admit that when I returned to my hometown on the literal opposite side of the country, I did have fears and anxieties about the people that I would be seeing. Of course I was excited to see my family and close friends but there was also a present mindset that I was moving backwards. I have come to realize that I have attached home with a sense of regression where I feel like I am not able to grow or develop as a person. Perhaps it was a false idea that to truly be able to grow one must be on their own, but in reality this could not be farther from the truth. While distance has indeed separated me from my family and friends while I study at college, I do not believe we have ever been closer. This statement has been attested to in all that I have done during my first week back.
While I have been home I have had the opportunity to meet with many different people and just be blessed by our conversations. Even in talking with people I do not know very well, I have been really encouraged to grow in all aspects of my life while I am at home. There is no longer a sense of my life being put on pause even though I am not far away for academics or the continuation of my future. I have learned that life at home can be just as, if not more, important for growth both relationally and spiritually.
Today at church I listened to a sermon preached on something that has grown especially important to me over the past few months. As I have become more involved at a church back in Lynchburg, I have really begun to figure out why it should be the desire of every Christ-follower to serve and help in a local church. Growing up, church was an expectation, as I am sure it was for many people that have grown up in the Christian faith. It was just something we did on Sunday mornings and whenever youth group was scheduled during the week. Church did not really have a true purpose or explanation in my life until my junior year of high school where aspects of my religion finally begun to fall into place. It was not until my junior year that I finally took hold of my relationship with Christ for myself and figured out what it meant to really be a Christian. My attendance in church was no longer a ploy to appease the angry honks from an irritable car on a Sunday morning. My prayers were no longer addressed to a Santa-Claus-like figure with a sack full of "new blessings each day." My life was no longer a misguided attempt to be good, but a complete dependence and reliance on the grace of God and the righteousness of Christ.
This morning as my pastor spoke on the importance of healthy relationships to promote the truest and most important aspect of Christianity, that being love, I could not help but think how truly blessed we are as the body of Christ to be able to be so encouraged and supported by fellow believers within our churches. I truly believe that God desires His Church to be united in both word and deed, and this involves a consistent and purposeful living of life together. The Scripture mentioned this morning spoke of the closeness of the New Testament church in
"And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
Teaching. Fellowship. Worship. Evangelism.
A church founded upon the Word of God, a church that seeks to build up and edify its people, a church that praises Him with sincere hearts, and a church that lives to see the Kingdom of God grow, is one that follows the commands of the Bible. While we as people will certainly mess up and fall short of perfection, the Church, the Bride of Christ, will continue to glorify God when it adheres to those four expectations.
Christians that live in community with other believers with sincerity of heart and religion will glorify God through their words and deeds. We are no longer helpless and alone, broken in our sin and depravity. When Christ called us, He united us with Himself and united us with His body. There is no reason to live life alone when Christ has saved so many to bless and encourage us. Seek His kingdom and in seeking His Kingdom, find community and the blessings in His united body of believers.