For many of us when we were young, church was a fertile place to grow — not only in our faith but overall in life. Our church family pointed us to Jesus. We were loved, nurtured, and cared for in deed as much as word. For me, perhaps my deep affection for church is seeded in my first memory in life (in a church Christmas play) or how my church family responded following my mother’s death when I was just nine or my Sunday school teachers’ consistency until I went away to college.
Writing For All Who Wander gave me the unexpected gift of lingering in those memories, and I realized how important, even special, it is to think about the pastors, leaders, teachers, family, and friends who have poured into us spiritually. These are the people who’ve shared and lived the gospel and helped us understand the good news found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. They’ve been a partner to God’s transforming work in our lives.
Aren’t you grateful for those who’ve strengthened or challenged your faith, who’ve spoken truth to you, who’ve prayed for and taught you or maybe even learned alongside you? When I consider all the people who’ve invested in me, a parade of beautiful faces come to mind, and I send a little prayer of thanks to God for them.
Having a community of faith at every stage in life makes the kind of difference that matters. These are the people we need around us when we have questions, face uncertainty, or when life’s curveballs come hurtling toward us. When we’re wrestling and wandering in our faith, we need those who’ll point us to Jesus.
We need folks like this even more in the day-to-day. When wise and trusted mentors and friends point us to Jesus in everyday conversations, it helps prepare us in advance for inevitable battles. A strong faith community naturally strengthens our faith.
Also, having mature believers speaking truth to us on a regular basis can bring clarity to confusion. And if you’re the one with some age, spiritual maturity, or experience, it’s a treasure to give away. Investing in others is kingdom work, a blessing that returns in greater measure.
It’s hard for me to admit (because it’s painful), but years ago I actually lamented having too many friends. It was a season characterized by busyness more than fullness, and I took my friendships and community for granted. God would eventually deal with me about that — hard lessons I penned that point to God’s faithfulness when I was an absolute brat. The short version is my once rich, vibrant faith community withered away to a shadow of what it once was, and I was lonely and reckless, relying on my own strength and resources rather than turning to God. Thankfully, God was working all things together for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28), and friendships were restored in the most unexpected of ways.
It may sound cliché, but people really do need people. It took a season of void for me to finally understand that.
Fast forward to now, and I think we’d agree that COVID has robbed us of so much. Not being able to gather in person has taken a toll, I believe, in incalculable ways. It’s crazy to feel like hugging someone you care about is a crime. Thankfully, in many places, we’re returning to a new normal that includes meeting in person, and — gasp! — wrapping your arms around the people you’ve sorely missed.
Still, many of us are disconnected from any sort of community — from church community, friends, work colleagues, even from God. The rhythms of attending church or going to work or class in person have been disrupted. This long season of separation from our communities over the past year reminded me of that dark season when I felt all alone in the world, where it seemed as if community was non-existent (a lie, by the way). There were days I was inexplicably sad, shrouded by a sense of desperation. But the difference between then and now is that I know the valuable lesson of sharing what I’m experiencing with the people who love me, and in return, they allow me the space to be honest, pray for me, and speak truth to me from God’s word.
Friends, we need to reconnect back to our people, especially our faith communities. We need to remind each other of what we already know — the truths that ground us and give us hope. As much as we do know, there’s so much more to know, and we need each other to keep learning. The writer of Hebrews speaks to a ministry of mutuality, where we all give and receive:
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25a (ESV)
Is there anything more lovely than friendships founded on Christ? There’s a forever quality about them that I cherish. As things continue to open up, let’s love, serve, meet, and encourage one another — a near-perfect definition of community.Leave a Comment