This makes for harmony among the members, so that all members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is part of it. - 1 Corinthians 12:25-27
Community is a vital part of life. If you stop and think about it for a second, is there a time when you haven’t been involved in some sort of community? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines community as this: a unified body of individuals. Whether you were unified as a family unit, your grade school classroom, a sports team, a church congregation, a Bible study, or a group of coworkers, it’s almost impossible to say that absolutely no one has ever been involved in some sort of community. We need community – we were made for it.
If you’re anything like me, somewhere along the line you’ve struggled with your identity - not knowing who you really are deep down. My struggle came from names that I believed defined me. I wasn’t the most popular girl in school and was bullied quite a bit when I was younger. If you can think of a name to be called, I’ve probably had it spat in my direction at some point in my life. The thing about words is that we take them to heart. We let their labels define who we are within seconds and spend days, months, and years rehearsing those very same words to ourselves because that’s what we believe to be true.
Or maybe your struggle didn’t come from something someone said about you, but a feeling that was left by an action...
So-and-so didn’t invite me to their party, so I must be unwanted.
So-and-so said only ‘important’ people are allowed to sit at this lunch table, so that must mean I’m nothing.
Someone didn't show up to my show/game/concert/competition, that just means that they don’t think I’m good. I’ll never be good enough.
So-and-so left me. I guess I’m just not worthy of being loved. I am unlovable.
It wasn’t a label directly spoken, but one that was a conclusion. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. Your community has so much of an impact on who you are and how you view yourself. That’s why God designed us for community. But He didn’t create it for the purpose of tearing one another down; His purpose for community was to build up and to uncover more of who He says you are.
The friends that I have gained through going to a private Christian college and church have given me the best sense community. They have seen me in the absolute darkest time of life. I thought I had lost myself forever and to be completely honest, I don’t think I would have made it through that time without them. Through everything, they cried with me, felt my pain alongside me, prayed for me, and never let me stop moving forward. In those months, so many old labels resurfaced and new ones appeared. My friends fought tooth and nail for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. They fought to make sure that I knew where my true identity was found – in Jesus, not my circumstances.
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. - Proverbs 27:17 NLT
That’s what being involved in a Godly community is supposed to be about! Community is meant to build us up, support us, and point us back to Jesus. The people that you’re in community with are there for a reason. They will help you rip off the false labels of not enough, unwanted, unloved, etc. and learn to believe what God says about you – that you are a child of the Most High King.
They will remind you over and over again that this King not only wants you, but He designed you just for Himself; that He loved you enough to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth to die the death you deserved; and that you don’t have to try to be “enough” for anyone because you were – and still are – enough for Him.
They will fight battles with you in word and prayer, making sure that in every moment of every battle, you know where your true identity lies so you don’t completely lose yourself. They will encourage you in your walk with Christ and will remind you of who you are and whose you are. Sometimes, I can read about who God says I am all day long and not let a word of it soak in. When I’m struggling to remember who I am, my friends – my community – are there to remind me who I am in Him and because of Him.
God designed community so that we wouldn’t have to do life here on earth alone, so we would have others to walk and grow with us in our faith, and to give us a glimpse of who He is through their love for us.
1. Do you have this type of community around you? What does it mean to you? And if not, what would it mean to you to find it?
2. Think of a time when you were either struggling with a false label or with believing something God said about you, and how being involved in a Godly community helped you find/remember your true identity in Christ. Take a moment to reflect on it and then answer this question: how would that situation have looked different if I was walking through it by myself?
God, You are so good. Thank You for who You are. Thank You for being the One who created the Heavens and the earth and still calls me by name. Thank You for community, Father. Thank You for designing me in such a way that I still need others. Thank You for not letting me do life here on earth on my own. God, I admit that sometimes I have trouble believing who You say I am. Would You help me? Would You give me eyes to see myself the way You do? Would You continue to place people in my life who love You and can help me know You and who I am in You better? I love You, Father. I pray all of this in Your Son Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.