Every once in awhile, I write a really vulnerable post. While it is nerve wrecking and I would much rather spend time writing a travel blog, I have found that when I say yes to God nudging me to write about a particular topic, it has created space for God to move and impact other people’s lives. So, please know that whenever a writer, artist, musician, whomever, opens up their raw heart for others to see, that is not something to just take like a grain of salt. I pray and hope that this post encourage someone, even if it’s only for one. It’s worth it.
So, here it is.
Not too long ago, I read a book that transformed my thought process about ministry and life. Yes, it really did. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller is a must read.
In Miller’s book, there is a chapter on the purpose of church and he touches on these four things: spiritual, art, community, and authenticity.
1.Spiritually, we become Christians not only for the sake of our salvation, but to serve and live our lives for a lost and broken world. As my Pastor stated this past weekend, “God doesn’t give us vision for self-centred purposes.” It changes the way you pray, how you invest your time, and how you view your mission every time you walk through the church doors AND out your own home doors every morning.
2.We were created to create.
3. Our lives aren’t meant to be lived alone. Miller states that people should be living, eating and playing together. His pastor “encourages young single people to get houses and live with each other.” (more on this later)
4. Social media has its pros and cons. I wrote on the dark side of social media for my Senior Thesis in college. If you ever want to read it, let me know. Anyways, all that to say, it is all the more important that in a social media saturated world, we create spaces, especially within the church, for authenticity. As Miller writes, “I am allowing people to get to know the real me, and it feels better to have people love the real me than the me I invented.”
So, here is a post that has been created for authentic conversation, a conversation that emphasizes the importance of being connected to a church in body, mind and spirit.
As many may or may not know, I currently live in a studio in Los Angeles all on my own. No family, no roommates, not even a dog. The amazing church that I am apart of, Life Church, is 30 miles from where I live and is a 2 hour commute during the weekdays (Yay, L.A. traffic!) If I told you that it’s been easy, I would be lying through my teeth.
I am an extrovert living in an introverted world, a world where the nearest friend is at least an hour drive from where I live during the week. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time by myself. Some of you might be saying that sounds like heaven right about now. And, yes, at times, it is wonderful and joyous, but there are seasons where it is difficult.
When I first read that quote in Miller’s book about how young single Christians shouldn’t live alone, I must admit, I rejected the statement entirely. The independent, fierce nature within me said, “Okay, maybe, but not for everybody. Some people are strong enough to live on their own.” It was definitely a wrong attitude to have. And, it wasn’t until recently that Miller’s words finally clicked in my spirit.
Here are two definitions for the word, community.
(n). a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
(n). a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
It isn’t just about living with others, and if you are unable to do so/it isn’t possible(like in my situation), it is still very important to understand the purpose of community in each of our lives. There is a reason that the importance of fellowship is mentioned in the Bible.
Here’s a few verses to get this point across.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” -Acts 2:42
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” -1 John 1:7
Recently, from time to time, I’ve been feeling low. Just being honest. I couldn’t understand where the feelings and the thoughts were coming from. And, then it occurred to me. While I am around people at work during the week, I don’t have much opportunity to be in fellowship with other believers. Yes, I am in daily fellowship with God, which provides all joy, but there was a sense of disconnectedness. And, during this particular season, a lot of my friends live really far away(side note: Dear all my out of state friends, y’all just need to move here already). God was revealing to me how important true fellowship is(not just breaking bread together).
I am thankful for this season that has produced a deep strength and faith within me like no other, but I have also come to really know what the power of singing, laughing, playing, living, and praying with other believers does to our spirits. Though I am currently not able to do it as much as I was able to during my years in college, I recognize the importance of each gathering with other believers. While it is difficult sometimes to find others who understand what it’s like to live alone, I am thankful for the church family. Don’t ever take that gift for granted. It it breathing more life into you and I than we even realize. Fellowship keeps us in one accord, unified as His church to carry out the non self-centred vision of the church.
You, no matter how strong you may be, cannot carry the vision alone. There is a reason God has given us fellowship, and may we, as the church, may be more unified than ever before, in mind, body and spirit. My heart aches and beats for true community, just as it should for all of us. I look forward to the day when I will be in a place where I don’t have to wait until the weekend to connect&fellowship with others. For now, I write and share my heart with all of you. This is a pro about the social media community. May we continue to use it in an impactful and encouraging way.