3 Ways to Foster Christ-like Community
Hey everyone! I’m Jimmy, Yuni’s husband, and I have the honor of writing part 3 in this series on community. Before we get into it, can I just say thank you! Thank you for taking the time and energy to read Yuni’s blog, try out her recipes/ideas, and give us your feedback. I wish you all could see how Yuni lights up when she sees a comment or an email! Alas, that is my burden to bear!
Haha okay, first let’s rehash the aspects of community that Yuni has touched on thus far in parts 1 and 2:
Shares burdens and joys (e.g. physical, emotional, spiritual, etc…)
Aligns with God’s design for creation and reflects His very nature. Consider the fact that God describes himself as a trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He is perfectly and mysteriously in constant community with himself!
Presents us with opportunities to practice our God-given giftings
Meets together “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:21
Places a priority on each other with willingness to expend energy and resources
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. Acts 4:32
Is the ideal environment for us to love, encourage, learn, be corrected and, in general, grow as the people of God.
Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8
Definitely does NOT MAKE YOU PAY FOR RICE with Chinese food!
What a beautiful picture of community. It’s a place where we are loved in spite of ourselves, free to be ourselves, and challenged to move beyond ourselves. All of this is built on the foundation that God set the example of community for us through his son, Jesus.
So now you’ve got this picture of an amazing community in your mind, but you might be asking yourself, “How do I get there?” I’d like to unpack 3 ways that we can foster the development of community in our lives. By no means is this an exhaustive list (hah… it’s only 3 things!) but I like the number 3 and this post would get WAY TOO LONG if we went further. By all means, bring up other aspects of developing/hindering community via comment!
3 Ways to Foster Community Around You
Move Past The Bridge…
Commonalities can be the start of community but don’t guarantee it! You’ve got to MOVE PAST THE BRIDGE! I’m sure we can all think of various groups of friends or social circles where the primary purpose of meeting and engaging with one another is a common interest (e.g. sports team, hobby, school, etc…). I learned this expression when Yuni and I did a year-long internship where we lived within walking distance of our team, 3 other families and 2 brothers, with the purpose of ministering to our neighbors. We often discussed how we could build bridges with our neighbors through common interests and bridge the wide cultural gaps but we always clung to the mantra of “don’t stay on the bridge!” We also focused on exercises to build community and intimacy within the team by taking intentional steps to spend time together (e.g. if I have to use a can opener, I’m always going to borrow my teammate’s). Commonalities are a practical way to initiate community, but my opinion is that true Christ-like community is found amidst the deeper and intimate topics of life.
Share that Dirty Laundry…
I’m a firm believer that the strongest bonds of relationship between people are built in the crucible of struggle. There is something about a group of people facing the challenges of life, supporting each other as they walk together through those dark times, and then coming out the other side better for it that builds the strongest bonds which I feel are necessary for Christ-like community. In the next part, I’ll expound on how I feel the “perfect façade” acts to hinder community, but unless we are willing to be vulnerable (at the right time) and expose our dirty laundry, struggles and hurts, we miss out the opportunities to really be there for each other and become “more than conquers” over those struggles! Sharing our “dirty laundry” can definitely be awkward but it typically just takes that one person to open up and the ball gets rolling.
Real Community Take Real Time…
I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a number of tight communities as I was growing up. They weren’t all necessarily what I would describe as Christ-like community, but God used these examples to instill in me a deep desire for community from a fairly young age. I still remember being a freshman in college (go blue!) and observing this particular group of senior guys from NY that seemed to be really tight and thinking, “I want to be that tight with a group of guys one day.” I’m so blessed to have what I feel is a Christ-like community with not only my wife but also three other guys that I met during college. I can honestly say that I am the man I am today because of these guys! Over the past 15 years we’ve struggled, overcome struggles, matured, watched a lot of sports and consumed a lot of food together in community and we continue today, though there’s not as much watching sports and eating as they’ve moved to different parts of the world.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1
If you’re reading this and feeling discouraged because you feel you’re late to the whole Christ-like community party… DON’T! It’s never too late to build Christ-like community. It’s also possible to be engaged in more than one Christ-like community at the same time where they are each in various stages of development.
My hope and prayer for you is that if you don’t have a Christ-like community, God will put the desire in your heart for it. If you do desire it, don’t sit back and wait for it to happen to you! Let God know it in your prayers. Actively seek out people who want the same thing. I know that God will honor your desire in His perfect timing and you’ll be building your Christ-like community one bridge, one piece of dirty laundry and one day at a time.
In His Grip,
Wow, thanks yobs for sharing all that! Good stuff. Honestly, I when I was originally writing about community, I wasn’t planning on writing a whole 4 part series. The Lord really pressed this particular topic on my heart I really have to give all the credit to Him. If the Lord is also putting this on your heart, I am confident he will provide community for you but you also have to be obedient in taking an active role in that desire. May he open your eyes to the people around you and allow you to seek him and grow in him through that community.
Have a blessed weekend, folks!
Here’s Part 4!
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14