Building relationships and getting together to build a community is hard work. You have to show up. There are a gazillion other things you could be doing, but we all need people in various degrees. These people become your circle.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)
I don’t think the writer of Hebrews is only referring to religious church service where you check the attendance box.
God’s not impressed with our checked boxes. Heart transformation and relationships is what He is after. Not a religious ritual.
IN THE BEGINNING
From the beginning, God saw the need for relationships.
The Lord told Adam, it isn’t good to be alone so I will make him (you) a helpmate. Adam needed Eve, but He also needed others.
Adam was given the responsibility of naming the animals.
Not sure what got in Adam’s head when He saw a beast, scratched his head, and spit out the word Aardvark, or Hyenah.
Adam thought, ‘This is a blast, but I can’t relate to animals.’
GOD’S COMMUNITY PLAN FOR ADAM
Because Adam needed more than the animals, God started the first community.
Adam and Eve started pro-creating, another really great idea God had.
After the kids were born the drama started happening and it went a step further than they would have imagined. It got ugly. Cain killed Abel. Sibling rivalry turned wrong.
Relationships get messy as people flesh out life. This happens when we get close enough to experience each other’s stuff in real life.
This is when fellowship and spiritual growth happens. We can be challenged and irritated with each other as we process life. We learn to forgive the shortcomings of everyone as we grow up.
THE ESSENCE OF COMMUNITY
Sometimes the temptation to insulate ourselves with our immediate family or a best friend is tempting because we feel safe and don’t feel challenged.
We feel known and generally don’t feel poked or challenged in a healthy way.
We feel so comfortable, we slip into being complacent.
Complacency keeps us stagnant in a subtle way because we get cozy with our insulated life. Keeping things predictable and familiar is inviting because we can control this realm.
Stretching happens in messy imperfect relationships in a community. With all different types of people, personalities, and giftings we can be rattled out of our comfort.
‘Wow. It’s fun,’ said with a hint of sarcasm. It’s not guys. It’s challenging and teeth-gritting because what we want is for everyone to think like we do and they don’t. It sends our flesh into orbit and exposes the control freak within us.
There is an old saying, “The devil I know is better than the devil I don’t know.”
What if staying cocooned is about fear and major trust issues? We feel safe if we have people we are familiar with because we know what to expect.
What about the others? The ones who are unpredictable because we don’t know them. What will our experience be with these strangers who come from, God knows where?
COMMUNITY COMES FROM SERVING OTHERS
Building community comes when our desire to serve others is greater than serving ourselves.
People in my community can see and experience where we all fall short, then we can strive to help each other grow up.
Serving others by building an authentic community can bring unity and strength if we recognize we aren’t designed to do life alone.
When you give out of your purpose and do what you love, everyone is blessed. God himself is fulfilled by watching you do what He designed you to do.
Our strength lies in our community, as we use the gifts we’ve been given to help each other.
COMMUNITY GROWS FROM LEARNING TO LET GO
Nothing preserves strength like letting go of an offense. The payment a person owes you is draining. Let. It. Go.
Facing pain instead of avoiding it isn’t for a wimp. Community helps you face pain and can help preserve you.
What we acknowledge loses its power when we give it to God. Avoiding pain can often lead to numbing with addictions.
Addictions can be anything to numb and distract to avoid the feeling of pain. It compiles pain even though the goal is to avoid it.
Strength lies in refusing to numb with busyness and constant mental stimulation.
My niece, Regan, has an app on her phone that tells her how many times she checked her phone for the day.
One day we were talking, her eyes got big when she told me, “I checked my phone 140 times and the day wasn’t half over.”
We had a great conversation about why we are all so addicted to our phones and what life would look like if we redirected our attention to others in a physical community.
REAL VS VIRTUAL COMMUNITY
Virtual relationships aren’t bad but they aren’t meant to replace face to face relationships we build in communities.
It’s tempting to bypass face to face relationships and develop ones with a screen. There is a barrier and they’re only getting to know a portion of you.
You can paint any picture you want. You can be honest or deceitful.
It’s convenient to neglect meeting together. Excuses and legitimate reasons can start stacking the lists of why we simply cannot squeeze in another thing. But should we?
What if the group you avoided could be the one thing that grounds you? Ask yourself, “Am I avoiding people because I’m afraid?”
What if they are sent to help heal you and to reveal the real you. The healed you.
HOW GOD USES PEOPLE IN COMMUNITY
Not everyone has you at hello, but someone does. You might even find God using the least likely people in your community circle.
They might be someone that reminds you of your mother whom you try to avoid. You need healing but resist it because it’s painful.
No one wants pain, but there is a pain that heals and a pain that causes infection. Within the safety of a community, we can start the healing process.
People, as imperfect as you and I are what God considers a healing agent for us. We are all in a healing process and can assist peeling back the layers that need to come off.
Right in the messy middle of doing life together.
So the next time you’re tempted to turn away from others, turn towards them. The next time someone invites you over, say yes instead of no. Lean in instead of stepping back.
The next time you’re looking for an excuse to say no to your small group find a yes.
Embrace your circle and you will find they have been waiting for you after you first said, Hello.