This word has been on my heart for the past year or more. What is community? What does it mean to be living in community? Is it a vital part of my faith-walk? How does it glorify God? Why is it important?
I listened to a sermon given recently by my father-in-law and though he titled his sermon “family living,” he wrestled through some of the same ideas that God has been revealing to me about community. He spoke about the nuclear family, the extended family and the church family and I would venture to say he could have inserted the word “community” where he used the term “family”.
The language of the New Testament is filled with words referring to community and exhorting us to live well in community. Words like: Love one another, forgive one other, regard each other more highly than yourselves. Teach and correct each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, and bear each other’s burdens. Be friends with one another, be kind, compassionate, and generous in hospitality. Serve one another and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Some of these things come easily to me, but most of them are a struggle. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t say to encourage each other and pray for each other, IF that’s you’re spiritual gifting or if that comes naturally to you. No, it just says we are to do it as members of His body. How are we encouraging one another and bearing each other’s burdens? Is your Biblical worldview evident in your conversations with one another?
Dan and I have been fortunate to be growing in a church community with people who live these words. We have been encouraged and discipled, we have close friends who call and ask how to pray, we have accountability relationships in which friends and mentors help us along this path of sanctification. And community has grown to become a passion of mine, for it is in community that our faith grows and thrives. We simply can not walk this faith journey by ourselves.
And in 5 short weeks, we will depart from this familiar place. We will head to a different faith community. And though the thought of that brings me to the “ugly cry” almost every time, God has already been reassuring me and encouraging me through His people in this unfamiliar faith community.
It was the middle of March when I received an email out of the blue from a woman already serving at RVA. She introduced her family to us (through email) and explained that they are our “host family” this year. They are in charge of getting our house ready for us to move in, as well as being available to answer any questions we have while we prepare (and she probably regrets saying that since I email her questions on a regular basis!). Since March, we’ve had a number of people from RVA email and ask how they can be praying specifically and offer information and encouragement as well as welcome questions. The Lord is showing me that we have a support system already in place in Kenya! Our global God has people in place building the Kingdom of God and strengthening those around them. We are not going alone and we will not be alone when we are there serving!
And it is this community mentality, so influential in my life, that I pray God gives me the grace to pass onto the next generation, my kids and the kids at RVA. That they would be built-up and mentored in their faith so as to be Kingdom builders as well. That the Word of God would penetrate their hearts and they would live boldly in community, praying with and for others and glorifying God until He comes again.