Saturday, May 24, 2014

Defining Community

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
~Matthew 18:20
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
~Galatians 6:2
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.
~1 Corinthians 12:12

This is my first "assigned " blog topic in a long time! In preparation for a new online Bible Study from Proverbs 31 ministries based on the book "Limitless Life," we are asked to write about what community means to us. This is a good subject, and one I have not broached often.

When I think of the word community, I think of a neighborhood or a commune. I have a friend who lives in a Christian commune in a nearby town, and the bond that makes them a family is their Christianity. The bond that makes a neighborhood a community, is that everyone lives in the same place. So to answer that question in a simplified manner, I would say that community is a group of people that come together because they share a common bond.

As someone who has chronic, debilitating illness, and as a family member to someone who also does, I think community is essential. Whether it be in person or online, the need for a support system becomes more pronounced. God wants us to have relationship, we are made for it. He wants us to have fellowship with other believers, and He also wants us to spend time with non-believers as well.

God has been teaching me so much through the struggles of being sick and trying to find a "new" normal. Never before did I realize the importance of depending on Him, not just in the hard times, but all the time. Part of what he provides to me, is the people He puts in my path. Sometimes He teaches me through these people. Other times, they are here to help me in a more direct way, and it is as if He is speaking through those people to me. Sometimes it is so I will reach out of my own world and help them. Whatever the purpose, I believe that God's church exists far beyond the walls of a physical church.

So for me, as a Christian, community is my church. My husband and I have a Christian support group that meets twice a month for people with a mental illness and their families. Sometimes we have had 15-20 people, other times we have two people. It doesn't matter who comes, because God is present. We make God part of the journey and He speaks to us, through the Word, Sometimes He speaks to us through a voice; some of those times that voice is the weakest and in the most pain, but we are reaching, learning and growing. With God in the middle, we are growing together. And although many of us are so different, there is such a sense of trust in our group, and a respect for each other's differences. God may have brought us together through a sharing of illness, but the bonding is about our shared Christian walk.

Everyone has a different role; not assigned roles. I believe that when God brings us together, he provides people who all serve a different purpose, much like the parts of a body. No one needs ten arms, but certainly we need enough of the different parts in order to be able to function well. There are people who serve as the "core" group, who have a constant presence, and others will come and go. Whether the community is online or face-to- face, I see this happen. As time goes on, there always seems to be a divine timing to it.

My communities that I have been and am a part of have been a true blessing to me. I pray that if you have not connected with others and become part of a community, that you will find one. I hope that your eyes will be open to what God has just for you!

What does your community mean to you?
How does it help you cope with life?
What means the most to you in your community?
How do you think you have grown through community?

P31 OBS Blog Hop