Tuesday, July 12, 2011

community: the buzz word

i can still remember the first time i heard it. a few years after relocating back to college station my best friend, jamie, posed an unordinary question. let me first say that it has never been unusual for her to engage my heart with a question that shakes something loose in me.

19 years old, a carefree conversation behind the wheel of just another teenage adventure.

so how would you respond if God told you that ya’ll needed to break up?

but why would He do that? for once i was sortakinda yielded in this area…His sanctification well at work in me.

we broke up within a few short months

like i said, shaking things loose

fast forward several years…another unordinary question

so do you feel like you are experiencing real community?

i’m sorry, what? can you say that again?

to my recollection i stammered off the names of a dozen people that filled my time, from bible studies & coffee chats to Gilmore Girls viewing parties.

long after our phone date ended the words rattled around in my mind

 real community

you see my life was full of people…but could i answer the question when i had no understanding of it?

i am still learning what it means to walk in biblical community but a few things are clearer to me since then.

we were made for it & our souls suffer without it 

from the beginning of creation God established that it was not good for man to be alone. we need deep & abiding relationships with safe, like-minded people. Hebrews 10:24 admonishes for us to not give up meeting together but to spur one another on toward love & good deeds…to encourage one another all the more.  

this is God’s heart for us

not that we simply come together in frequency but that we do so with purpose.

community means taking off the mask of religion, laying down our pretenses, and getting messy. only then can we really enter into life with others & let them love us in all of our unlovliness.

it takes God-sized courage & this coming from someone who has prided herself on “being transparent”. only recently have i discovered how deep my need is and it has rocked me.

i mean, really rocked me. 

hi! my name is andrea and i am needy. because you see, under this glossy surface are deep wounds, irrational fears & nagging insecurities. will you be my friend & remind me of Whom i belong to?

thanks be to God for cultivating community in my life- multiple people that do just this. they receive me as i am while reminding me who i am because of Him.

community doesn’t just happen… we must first value it, then seek it out.

the health of our souls depend on it

ryan recently received a question about community from a former college student. i learned from his response & have a feeling you might also. 

Question: "Do you think true community can exist through phone and email?"

Response: The short answer is, no, not if you can help it.  If you're forced to because of being in an isolated environment (missionaries overseas, long-distance dating, etc.), then obviously that's all you can do.  But, if there is anything you can do to actually share life with people, you must make it happen, even if you're attendance is sporadic. 

When we are talking on the phone, etc., the only insight people have in our lives is how we interpret it for them.  Unfortunately, we're not honest people (with ourselves or with others)... even the most humble of us can still shell out a good amount of manipulation.  We need people that interact with our lives, people that can sift through the BS and direct us toward Jesus.  And, we need to do that for others also.

We need to have people whose house we can go to after tragedy that will cry with us, or who can hear us work through our family dysfunction, etc.

Also, we can still be extremely lonely and talk on the phone for hours a day.  There is something about presence that "cures" loneliness.  And, loneliness can be a very dangerous spiritual condition.  

Did you know that for the first 300 years, the single most important act the church participated in was to eat together? not listening to sermons or even doing justice but breaking bread. The reason is that there is power in being physically present.

They understood that who we really are is frighteningly contingent upon who is around us.  Even today, communion is a critical part of liturgies around the world. Why is that?

So, although phone, skype, email are great tools for a few occasions, it can also be a very tempting false substitute for biblical community. 

It's just enough to help us think we are linked with others, but not enough to be truly and deeply transformed by them. 

I'm learning this stuff myself ... 

so it’s my turn to ask the question… do you feel like you are experiencing real community?

may we enter into life with people & be transformed!


  1. Great post, Andrea!! And lots of wisdom from both you and Ryan.
    I am so thankful to be in a community of people, most of whom I go to church with, who know my struggles and point me to Christ. And I agree, it is essential and necessary for our spiritual growth and sanctification.
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Whoa! I am impressed with your hubby. I definitely see a book deal somewhere in his future. What will the topic be? :)

  3. Love this Andrea, and love your heart! (and miss you and that Jamie and her great questions also!)


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