The Importance of Community
As I write this in August 2020, I wonder how different this would have been had I written it in February 2020. The world has certainly changed, and our community looks undeniably different. However, what the Bible says about community and our responsibility to one another has not changed. The Bible is our anchor in the storm, and we should find great comfort in the truth that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Community is a command. Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we should not neglect meeting together. So often when we hear that verse quoted, we leave out what it says next: “but encourage one another.” God is revealing to us our need to be together. In Psalm 122 the psalmist exclaims, “I was glad when they said let us go into the house of the Lord.” And again in Psalm 34 he says, “Oh magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together.” We need the body of Christ to encourage us and to reflect His image to us, especially in those times of struggle. I began to search the New Testament for the concepts of “one another” and “community.” I stopped counting at 35, as it became clear that God desires us to be in community with one another.
In my own life, throughout these months that we have been dealing with Covid-19, I have needed my small group more than ever. Having a connection, even if it was through Zoom meetings, texts, or phone calls, still allows me to hear of the goodness of the Lord in the lives of others. Seeing God at work, hearing how He is answering prayers, being encouraged through the Word, and worshipping together are all ways God uses community in my life.
When we are together, in whatever way is possible to us right now, we are doing as we are commanded. We speak to one another about our wonderful God, encourage one another to rejoice in our salvation, and even sing praises to Him together. This encourages all of us. It is God’s design for our good.
Maybe your community right now is just one or two people. It is still community, and you can still encourage one another. Remember Paul and Silas in Acts 16? It was midnight, they were in prison, there were only the two of them, and they were praying and singing praises unto God! And it says the prisoners heard them. This was community to the glory of God and for the good of Paul and Silas.
But God also desires for us to be in community with Him. It is our relationship with Him that fuels our love for others. If I am not right with the Father, I will have a difficult time loving His children. The Word tells us the first command is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and the second is to love our neighbor. God knows we need His Spirit indwelling us and empowering us to reflect Him to those He places in our lives.
If I am not entering into community with others, I am opening myself up to one of the enemy’s greatest weapons – isolation. Isolation often leads to depression, unhealthy introspection, self-incrimination, and guilt. In essence, isolation leads to being self-focused. Drawing from personal experience, when my husband Jerry was confined to our home, he would spend a lot of time thinking about being confined and all the things he was no longer able to do. This led him to feeling useless and depressed. But whenever Pastor Dan or another Christian friend would stop by to visit, his entire countenance would change. Why? Because he, like each one of us, was created for community and seeing Christ in others.
God knows community is for our good, but it is also for His glory. He is preparing us for an eternity of community with Him and His Bride, the Church. Are you experiencing all God is offering you? Even in these days where community looks different, are you asking God what He has for you? Community is His plan for us, and we know all His plans are good.