Why community? The topic of community has come up several times recently in posts and I feel like it’s time to begin to understand why community is such an integral part to this life. Honestly, I couldn’t begin to undertake that task until I was reflecting yesterday on a conversation I’d had with someone about music. It struck me that artists and people in community share one very important purpose.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'” Genesis 1:26a
We all need to share. Now, I’m not saying that we all have a need to share everything, because you get too close too my food and you’re not walking away the same as you did before. In all seriousness, we were designed to share and be shared with in this life. We share experiences, joys, trials, stories, meals (just not mine), etc. If you need any more proof, skim your Bible and you’ll see the Trinity is the perfect example with each entity sharing and accepting in a distinct way.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” – I Corinthians 12:12-13
We need to give. Being both a songwriter and a person with high relational needs, I understand this very well. My relational needs tell me that I need to give to receive. Sure, this doesn’t hold with grace, but in earthly relationships this theory I think we all can agree applies. What was so eye opening however was the artist’s perspective that breaks giving down to a matter of calling. If we’re not giving of our calling, sharing our specific gifts, then we are selfish. We’re rejecting the gifts God has given us and depriving the world of enjoying God in that particular way.
We need to receive. Even God chooses not to give all the time. If the self-sustaining Creator rejoices in receiving, like a father does his infant’s first finger painting, then that says a lot about us. We have no such self-sustenance, therefore we intrinsically need to receive. We need to receive, because we need God and so often does He work through the giving of others. We need to receive because, like breathing, we need also to inhale God’s grace after we have exhaled through our own giving. Without receiving, eventually we burn out and can no longer give.
Problems arise when we’re without. Rarely do you see problems with people who are actively engaged in true community, with friends knowing the intimate details of one another’s lives and sharing times of joy and grief alike. No, it’s when people don’t feel like they have anyone sharing with them or to share with that lives go awry. Has there ever been a person who killed or tried to kill him or her self because community was too overwhelmingly blessing their soul? I’m going out on a limb and saying no. Loneliness, being out of community is what drives people to this. I know, as I had someone I knew take this route about a year ago.
Community is crucial not only to the Christian life, but to human life as we know it. Community provides the sense of acceptance and value that God intended. Yes, God is our ultimate source of validation and affirmation, but we will always derive some of this from our community. In that community we need to give because it is our duty of ministry as well as a service to our fellow man. Likewise, we need to receive so that we can continue to give and grow in the knowledge of God’s love. We need all this because many of us have seen the consequences either firsthand or been told by friends. Why community? Because through giving and receiving, we are able to carry on in the way He designed us.