The idea of community has changed dramatically in the US in the last generation. Cars, garages, cell phones and the internet have made us very independent and an over saturation of entertainment has isolated us into our little boxes we call homes. Many of us long for deep and real relationship, but grow exhausted just thinking about the effort it would require to build it, and when time rolls around to go out after a long day or work, or with a list of chores to do around the house, many of us prefer to just stay in.
But one of the major problems that we have as a society nowadays in building relationships is our cultural narcissism. We want to be pursued. We do not want to make the effort to reach out to those around us, we want them to reach out to us. We dress it up in all sorts of ways. The insecure say, “I do not want to bother them or be a nuisance”. The arrogant say, “I reached out last time, if he wants to hang out with me he needs to reach out”. And the oblivious say, “Why doesn’t anyone call me?” Me. Me. Me. Poor little ol’ me, no body likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.
People who make us feel good about ourselves are the popular people because when we think about community, we are really only thinking about having something to do and having someone love me. Not loving someone else.
We were created for community. But not just for hanging out and having fun. We, as Christians, were made to work together to make a cohesive whole, the Church: the body of Christ.
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
– Rom 12.4-5
In order to fulfill the Great Commission, we need each other. In order to be held accountable in our Spiritual growth, we need each other. In order to obey God, we need each other. But not only that, we have been given dynamic instructions in how we think about and relate to one another:
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant,and being made in the likeness of men.”
– Phil 2.3-7
Consider one another as more important than yourself. And what did Jesus say?
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
– Matt 22.39
We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to look at for their interests before and above our own. You love yourself enough to eat good food, get the clothes that you like, fix up your house just right, get pets, entertain yourself, set up retirement…when was the last time you sought those things out for your neighbor? Made sure that someone in your church was settled in all of those creature comforts and needs?
But on a simpler level, when was the last time you reached out? Jesus essentially commanded us to be pursuers. How will we know if someone is hurting, if someone is in need, if someone is lonely, if we do not pick up the phone and give him a call, or shoot a text, or write an email? How can we make disciples if we sit around and wait for people to pursue us? In case you haven’t noticed folks, people aren’t drawn to Christianity.
“There is none righteous, not even one;
there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God;
all have turned aside, together they have become useless;
there is none who does good, there is not even one.”
– Rom 3.10-12
No one is out there seeking after God. We have to take God to them. And we have to be the humble ones who reach out first, who take the offense, who forgive the grudge, who make the effort. Why? Because Jesus humbled Himself and came to Earth to save and forgive us, and we are supposed to be like Jesus. He reached out to us. We must reach out to one another.
Do you want to be pursued? We all do. None of us likes feeling un-liked. No one likes feeling like they always have to make the effort. But if that is the most uncomfortable aspect of our Christian walks, we have it pretty easy. So get out there. Get out of your comfort zone. Start looking around and seeing the needs around you, and start reaching out to others. Find the new people. Find the lonely. Be the body.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
– Heb 10.23-25