By Allie T. Robison
The Merriam-Webster definition of community is “a unified body of individuals.” The dictionary goes on to explain various examples of community, most of these examples involving location. Some of the great examples of community today revolve around things like a school, a sports team, a city, a culture, etc. Every community that we categorize as a functioning community has something in common: they all have something in common! Every member of a neighborhood community has location in common. Every member of a church has their faith in common. Every member of a scuba club has a love for a recreational activity in common. This is what makes said body “unified.”
I think that Jesus calls us to be in a community that is more than that. First of all, we were created to be with people. We actually would die without social interaction. I’m not joking: science tells us that loneliness is becoming a bigger epidemic than obesity. But it’s even evident in the Bible. Characters featured in Biblical stories are surrounded by people all the time. Jesus formed meaningful relationships during his time on earth. The first man ever created was given a woman because “it was not good for man to be alone.” (God said that!)
Okay, so community is there so that people aren’t alone. Awesome. But, I have had many experiences of being a part of a community, but still feeling alone. I might not be the only one who thinks this. That’s why I think that a fully functional community is one that makes sure that no one is alone. How does this happen? Let’s look at the Bible.
Hebrews 10:24-15: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Acts 4:32: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
1 Corinthians 1:10: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”
Romans 12:16: “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
These passages seem to suggest the types of relationships that I am not used to making. I like to have friends to go drink coffee with or walk around a city with and take pretty pictures. I like to be able to share my problems and listen to theirs, and we share laughs. I think there is nothing wrong with that, but I think Jesus calls us to more. Words like spur one another on, encouraging one another, shared everything they had, agree with one another, no division among you, live in harmony, do not be proud…
These words suggest a deeper type of relationship with people. Instead of coffee and catching up on the material things happening in your life, maybe what Jesus would have done is show up to my door at 11pm, when I’m in my pajamas and winding down, and ask me what the hardest thing in my life is. I’m not suggesting you show up at your friend’s door after dark and ask them about their deepest secrets, but I am suggesting that you don’t be afraid to. And the next time you hear a knock on your door right before you crawl in bed, praise God for great friends, and strive to be that friend for them, too. Spurring them on, encouraging, sharing, agreeing, no division, harmonious, and not proud. (PS. I included four verses. There are more than twenty thousand verses in the Bible. Go find them!) This is hard to do, but Jesus is calling us, and we better go!
If you want proof that loneliness is actually a terrible epidemic and you should get yourself some soul sisters/bros for life: https://www.sciencealert.com/widespread-loneliness-is-killing-people-and-we-need-to-start-taking-this-seriously
If you want to learn more about what Jesus calls us to: The Bible.