August 24

Living and Serving in Community, Part 1

Genesis 2:18a And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone….”

Romans 12:10-16 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

The first thing God says about man is that it’s not good for him to be alone. Of course, that leads directly into the creation of Eve, and some of us stop our thinking there. But the Lord’s words ring with reverberations far beyond marriage and the husband/wife relationship.

We are not meant to be alone, live the Christian life alone, or serve God alone. We were created, wired, and programmed from the start for community, fellowship, and relationship. In fact, we need other people to be all that God has called us to be as individuals, and to do all that God has called us to do.

It’s not that we are not worthy unless we are part of a group. The Lord touches us individually, loves us infinitely, and has a unique plan of each of our lives. But here’s the irony—when we see that we’re meant to live and serve in the context of community, we finally become who we are supposed to be!

Why can’t it be just me and Jesus? Why can’t I just serve God in my own way, by myself? We can do that, but it goes against God’s design and God’s plan for us. How could we possibly obey the Lord’s command to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” if we don’t connect—really connect—with our Christian brothers and sisters? How can we answer the many calls to spiritual unity in Scripture if we stand alone?

Proverbs 27:17 is famous for a reason: As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. We need each other to grow. We need each other to learn to love and receive love. We need to build up our own weaknesses with the strengths of other people. Yes, we are complete in Christ, but remember that Christ is head of His body. Our completion in Christ includes other people. He alone has made us worthy—yes. But we by ourselves cannot accomplish His full will in this earth—as a body and even as individuals.

Our enemy hates unity and the power inside of it. He will do whatever he can to isolate us, even just mentally or emotionally. He knows that embers set apart from the fire of coals will cool quickly, and that the pride that forms with independence is a fertile breeding ground for all kinds of ungodliness.

Yes, His people can be difficult and occasionally infuriating. They can also be lovely and kind and reflective of the heart of Jesus. But finally, they are His people. And we are among that people.

Prayer: Father, forgive me when I retreat from Your people for the wrong reasons. Lead me in Your paths of connection and service. Give me Your mind to understand Your plan for me with others, and Your heart to love others like You do.

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