The Bible always talks about the importance of community. The second greatest commandment is loving your neighbor. Jesus was always around people. He was around people that hated Him, people that followed Him, and people that had no clue who He was. Still, it’s community. I think that was a rather large point that Christ wanted to make with His walk on earth was being plugged into people. I truly believe He wants us to be united with one another. He sees the beauty when we love our neighbors, but I think He finds great joy when His followers gather together.
I have been lucky enough to find my groups over time that I gathered and currently gather with. In college, I found quite a few great churches and ministries. The first influential group that I was apart of was in my Christian sorority. We all saw each other’s faults and loved each other anyway. Just by gathering with Christ in the center of our hearts and conversation we were able to make it through some rough times together.
My last semester of college I found this church called Hillside. I was in desperate thirst for a connection with other followers, and after a rough patch of my life, I was desiring a place to call home. I wanted a place that I could find community again. Man, did I find it… These people didn’t have to accept me. They didn’t have to listen, but they did. Through the loneliest time of my life, this group of awesome people got me through it. The laughs we shared, the deep theological conversations, and just doing life together was one of the best gifts God gave me that semester.
Now we’re to the present…. I move to a city that I have only ever driven through. I knew nothing, I knew no one except my cousin, and here I am just God, me, and my dog. What the HECK am I doing right?? Well, God opened a door to one of the most fruitful things that has ever happened to me. He showed me a Hillside bible study that would consist of a group that would alter my life forever. These people are the kind of friends you have for the rest of your life and are people that you can be 100% with. They won’t judge you, we can do this crazy ride of life together, and we can still grow each other closer to God every day.
All of these groups have been places of gathering because of our Sovereign Lord. God was always at the center and He still is. How beautiful is that? His children are able to look past their political differences, their different races, different backgrounds, past life decisions, in order to glorify Him. What I find funny is that people think a community has to be only at the church. WE are the church!! The church is not just a building. Anywhere our feet are is where the community, the church, and the gathering begins. When God’s children join together in His name to share the Good News, it’s a beautiful thing.
The question and challenge I have for my readers (and myself) is why can’t we GROW our community?? Why do we seclude ourselves from others joining- because we don’t want to mess with our set group and amount of people? Or even more, why can’t we think more in terms of an invitation of others? Let’s think about the person that’s sitting in the back pew all by themselves. Let’s think about that coworker that doesn’t talk to anyone or isn’t liked by anyone. Let’s think about that person you always see when you get your daily coffee. Invitation- it’s simply walking up to a person and saying, “hi” to someone. Then the Spirit will take it from there. In Heaven, we’ll be a massive community. Why don’t we want to share that gift with others here on Earth? Simply inviting a person into your community could mean the world to that one person. Let’s share the beauty of Bible study… the church… community… gathering.