it is so interesting to me that no matter where i travel or where i live, conversation about community always comes up. people are talking about the community they have or the community they want. community looks like friends or family or spouses. but it is all the same. the same drive is in every conversation
i believe it is because we were created in the image of a God who IS community. we were created to exist in community. we were created to function in relation to others. we were never made to be “islands” like simon & garfunkel sang about.
when we exist on an “island” we are missing so much. we are missing perspective. we are missing insight. we are missing depth. yes. it may in fact be safer to go it solo if the grid by which you measure safety is comfort and a lack of pain. but it is also devoid of so much richness and joy that others bring.
here’s the problem i see. i see so many well intentioned people, myself included, make community a must. for some is it is a spouse. for some it is a family. for some it is a handful of friends. so many of us have this “as long as i have [a husband (wife) / my family / some community] i will be ok.” and while we were created to exist in community, it is never the ultimate answer.
God began to show me the reason i was in so much pain was because i took this gift of community and made it the “one thing” instead of Him. i think that problem is pervasive.
here’s what i mean. we were created in God’s image, perfect. we were created to dwell with him forever. we were created without sickness and pain. we were created to exist in community just like the triune God in whose image we were created. Because of sin, death reigned until Christ crushed death. because of sin, our world has sickness and pain and isolation.
anytime you say “i’m good as long as i have _________”, it won’t work. not because God can’t make it good but because we live in a world with sin where eventually our health/money/community will fail us.
“i’m good as long as i have my health.”
“i’m good as long as i can pay my bills.”
“i’m good as long as i know what to do next.”
it doesn’t work. it doesn’t work for health or money or plans and it sure doesn’t work for community because at the end of the day we’re human. the friend is going to abandon you. the spouse will hurt you. the money will be gone. you won’t know what to do. health will fail you or someone you love. maybe because of your own decisions or because of others decisions.
if God is ultimate. if He is in the proper place in your life, those things come and go but don’t hold ultimate sway like they do when you have them above God. if God is ultimate you can keep walking when the friend hurts, the job is lost, and sickness comes.
you see i had community as most important for a long time. i knew it was stupid to think that a husband could meet all my needs but i knew i was created for community even if i never got married. satan was sneaky. he would remind me of how i was created for community and would whisper that i deserved it. i became entitled. i didn’t know how to rationalize it in my head that i didn’t get to have this thing God actually created me for. i would argue with God, which obviously never went well.
it has taken the better part of 8 months to figure it out. and what i now know is that community is a sweet sweet gift. although there is pain, there is absolute richness. i know because God is ultimate i can weather the storm of people leaving or quitting or physical pain or loss of a job because in the end Jesus actually is enough.
but what about when life happens and your friends are human. what about when God takes away your community to show you that you don’t in fact need community, you need Him.
what about you? what do you think? what role does community play in your life?