When we talk about community, we are often talking about completely different concepts. We think we understand each other, but we often don’t. Some of us think of community as the collection of businesses, grids of streets, and public services. Some of us think about geographical boundaries and taxing entities.
One common definition is this: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. It’s the reason we often group together with people like ourselves, but when that sense of community becomes exclusive, it becomes unhealthy. For me, community is the choice to live in relationship where we stand with each other in the best and worst of circumstances. Yes, it is strengthened with common interests, attitudes, and goals, but the experience of community, itself, is a core goal that’s shared.
I have experienced it and it shapes my life and perspective:
- When I was ill, I received so many supportive texts and emails that told me that my life mattered.
- When I helped host a funeral for a city councilman, I heard the stories that affirmed the “connectedness” that he pursued with people.
- When tragedy struck, I watched as so many gave of their resources, time, and talent to raise support so that a young girl could have access to the medical care she needed so desperately.
Every one of us only experience that because we make the choice to live in those kinds of relationships. And when we are healthy as a church, we practice BOTH of the great commands of Jesus–to love God AND to love our neighbor.
Arm in arm, heart to heart, in the best and in the worst, living in community means we stand WITH each other, leaving the door open for others to join that circle of fellowship and support.