Do I Need Community?
People amaze me.
I enjoy talking with people, hearing their stories, hurts, fears, joys, interests—everything! I want to know all there is to know about everyone.
But being alone recharges me.
I enjoy thinking deeply about God, life, why I think the way I do, why I am the way I am, and anything and everything under the sun.
However, too much time with people, and I get overwhelmed, burned out, and socially depleted. But too much time alone and I begin to go so deep into my thoughts I end up feeling down and I isolate myself. However, what I’ve come to realize (and actually really crave during those times of being alone with my thoughts) is that I really need people to come into my life and do life with me.
From the beginning of Scripture and throughout, we see that it is not good for man (i.e. mankind) to be alone (Genesis 2:18-23). This idea is not only mentioned in Genesis, rather, it is reiterated all throughout Scripture! We see what happens to David when he is disobedient and is away from community—without accountability (2 Samuel 11). Conversely, we see what happens when people devote themselves to being taught Scripture, spending time, and praying together (Acts 2:42-47).
So what do these examples reveal? I think they show how we are designed to be in community. Merriam Webster defines “community” as, “a unified body of individuals.” Hmm. This idea sounds a lot like the Church: local and global.
Church is not just a group of people who sing songs, listen to someone talk about a topic they’ve studied a lot, and eat meals together. Paul talks a lot about the church in Philippians, and how they should stand “…firm in one spirit, with one mind…” working together “…for the faith of the gospel…” (Philippians 1:27). 1 Corinthians 12 also tells us that though there are different parts of the body, they all are important and must work together to make the body function properly. Additionally, Paul tells us that God has created the body to function in such a way that there would not be division, rather, that there would be unity in the body of Christ, which is the church (1 Corinthians 12:21-26).
When I started college, I was part of the church I had literally grown up in. I did not have a strong Biblical community due to friends moving on and away after high school. I remember one of the first semesters I really got involved in our college ministry and started getting to know people. Not only did I have friends at my huge university, but I had friends—who followed Jesus passionately—in my same major, taking the same classes, and who continually pointed me to Jesus and to follow Him. These friends were pivotal for me, as it was the first time I really understood what having Biblical community was all about.
Community is not just doing the same things with the same people frequently. It is not just going through the motions with others who are like you. Community is sharing your life with other people who can hold you accountable, encourage you, cry with you, rejoice with you, and speak truth to you. The church is a unified body of individuals by having a common goal, and Paul tells us that common goal is striving together—side by side—for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). When we are striving side by side, we HAVE to let others into our lives so they can help us see when we’ve stopped striving.
This idea is not just in the New Testament but really throughout Scripture. Proverbs 24 speaks to battling sin by reaching out to others: “[A] wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory” (vv. 5-6). Community helps you fight well and know when you’ve stopped focusing on following Jesus.
A couple chapters later in Proverbs, we see this: “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Proverbs 27:9). There is joy and wisdom found in community.
Recently, I have realized how much I need community in my life. God has been so good and kind to show that community is not something to have only with a few people at my permanent home. Rather, because there are followers of Jesus all over the world, I have the ability to find community literally all over the world, and I need that community.
Yes, it takes a little work to get to know people, but He’s helping me see that I can’t only have community with a few people that I know I will be with for years to come. I need community wherever I am for however long i’m there because I need people to help me see when I mess up—which is daily—and to help point me to Jesus. I need that whether I’m living somewhere for a few weeks or a few dozen years.
Community is something that is vital to the Christian walk. We need people to help show us when we’ve messed up (2 Samuel 12), and to encourage us to continue following Jesus (James 5:19-20), and to have them listen and pray with and for us as we confess our sins to them (James 5:16). I’m learning to find community whether I’m working at camp, or interning at a church, or living and working at a place I’ve lived for years. Relationships with other believers are a must if I want to continue growing in my relationship with Jesus, and those relationships come through the local church—a unified body of individuals that are unified because of Christ.
Praise God that community is not geographically bound! Instead, I can find it anywhere and everywhere I go, and for that I am grateful.