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, and all the more as you see the day of Christ drawing near.
Let us consider...give thought to, think over, decide, put action towards. Let us consider what real community is. What it means to dive deeper and deeper each day into the lives of others, and in turn to allow them, graciously, to dive into ours.
Throughout last semester and especially over Christmas break God burdened my heart with the desire for more, and greater depth of community in my life. Whether that is with my family, work friends, classmates, cousins, or roommates. As seasons change, so do those people in our lives. Yet at the same time God commands and desires us to have depth of community in and through it all!
And it is a struggle. Last semester my roommates and I struggled weekly to get ourselves into the habit of meeting with one another, really meeting. Being there completely in mind, body, and spirit. We struggled in considering and acting on the importance of community, and we definitely struggled in encouraging each other, really encouraging one another and lifting each other up.
Over Christmas break my friend and I attended a small church plant that I have been to a few times with friends. I was motivated to go to see friends, encourage friends, and just love them. Little did I know God had much bigger plans for my heart that Sunday morning. Jeff titled his sermon Who is the Church? The Holy Spirit challenged and redirected my heart in that hour eternally. Jeff used stories, examples, scripture, experience all to point to the call of community in our lives. His major point was that the church is nothing, absolutely nothing without the community in it. He used the words congregation and aggregation. When we, the church, show up, sing a little, read a little, and maybe grab lunch, and then disappear back into our own worlds, we are just an aggregation. A group that is only connected by being in the same building together. Jeff went on to explain congregation and that is when goosebumps covered my arms. The congregation is intricately and eternally woven together. When the congregation comes together, each person has the power to shape another, for eternity. He gave the visual of a cluster of grapes. Each grape is separate, yet it is rooted together with all the rest. It is constantly being changed and grown in accord with all the others.
This is the community our hearts long for. This is the community Hebrews 10:19-25 is speaking of. Jeff mentioned that usually this scripture is taught to tell people they need to go to church. Which is completely true. "But there is so, so much more than that!" He joyfully exclaimed. And that is the truth. Community is so much more than Sunday mornings or even coffee once a week. Community is every single day. Community is diving deep into the darkest places of each others lives.
Last semester my roommates and I did the Forgotten God study by Francis Chan. And it was absolutely incredible. But at the same time we all look back and see how the devil completely used it to distract and divert our sincerity of faith. We were so caught up in finishing a chapter each week, that we neglected to come together in consideration and encouragement. It was Leah`s idea that this semester we read through a book of the Bible each day in our quiet times and then come together at night for sharing and prayer, in place of doing a study.
And it has been incredible. The picture Jeff gave of community has finally become a reality in all of our lives. We are sharing deep hurts and expressing joyful days of freedom. Yesterday Leah came home from class and said, "I feel light. Like I am flying."Jesus gave her freedom. We are walking through the pits and pulling each other into the light. God is molding each one of us to be more and more like him, and that is the most beautiful part of all. He is being glorified. He is being made famous in our depravity.
Praise you Jesus for redirecting out hearts. Praise you for taking us back home, returning our hearts to yours. May you be glorified in and throughout our lives. May the nations praise you!