Designed for Community

by Julie Coleman

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB

It might not be a great idea in June, but I love a warm fire on a cold winter’s night. My husband Steve is an excellent fire-builder. He often makes a nice crackling fire for me when we relax in the evenings or entertain guests during the cold winter months. But inevitably, when Steve leaves the room for more than a few minutes, his roaring blaze begins to sputter and die. It’s not for lack of effort on my part; I add new logs and juggle what is already burning to the best of my ability. But in the end, I prove inadequate for the job.

I finally asked Steve: “What am I doing wrong?”

He informed me I was mistaken about the logistics of a fire. I thought that the logs should be separated, to allow a free flow of oxygen. Big mistake. To keep a fire going, the logs must remain in close proximity to each other. When the pieces are separated, the fire will quickly die out.

What I learned that night became a metaphor for another kind of struggle I was having. I had been deeply offended by someone at our church. And rather than continuing to struggle with the blinding anger I was feeling, in my heart, I yearned to walk away from the community.

The problem is we are not created to go it alone. There is a reason the writer of Hebrews admonished his readers to “not give up meeting together…” Simply put, we need each other.

Even the Son of God felt a need for fellowship. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He begged His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

We are created for community. This is most evident in the Spirit’s distribution of spiritual gifts. We have received differing abilities, which, when combined, make us a complete and effective entity. Another benefit of community is in the potential perspective and wisdom available from those traveling the same road. Spending time worshipping and praying together flares our spiritual fire as well. Fellowship is as vital to spiritual health as food is to our physical bodies.

Seeing those logs burn brightly together gave me resolve to work out my differences with that offending person. We are commissioned to be lights in the darkness. That light will be exponentially brighter when we choose to join forces with like minds. Though our fellowship may be imperfect, and even at times undesirable, in the end as we persevere in our relationships and work through our differences, the reward will be great. We are meant for community.

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Womenwas published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Join the conversation: What benefits have you experienced through the fellowship of fellow believers?

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9 thoughts on “Designed for Community

  1. If we walk away from fellowship every time someone hurts or offends us, we’ll be doing a lot of walking! And when it is a sister in Christ that has made me feel this way, I try to remember I’ve had many days when I wasn’t at my best. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me at times because of attitude, ignorance, and a host of other selfish reasons. Don’t always assume the hurt is intentional. When in doubt, pray and then ask Jesus to be a part of the conversation as you communicate with the offending person. Thanks Julie!

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    1. Great contribution, Lori! I agree with every word. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt goes a long way toward understanding. And keeping Jesus in the mix brings hope to even the worst of situations. Thanks for your wisdom!

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  2. Once after I taught a class, one of the older children asked me a question about Satan. I answered her question. It was a potluck Sunday. In the kitchen a few minutes later, the girl’s mother yelled at me in front of all the other women. Talk about offensive! I thought, “I will never, ever teach here again!” Yet we worked through it and I drew some boundaries with the mother. We both still attend the same church. But there is distance between us, for she has never apologized. It takes both parties to reach a reconciliation. But I’ve discovered that it only takes one to choose peace to make the situation livable. These things are HARD!

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  3. They ARE hard. But not insurmountable, as you have proved in your eventual response. I’ve never been sorry when I have responded to challenges like that in humility and kindness. Never. Jesus prayed that His disciples would be unified, so that the world would believe that God sent the Son (John 17:21) That’s how important our fellowship is to those still living in darkness.

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  4. Wow. This devotion spoke directly to me. I have encountered that same exact situation and am walking away from various opportunities. However, that other person has to be willing to hear you out not cut you out. That is my struggle for the time is this person refuses to speak to me and the other refuses to speak anything but unkindly. Very tough at times. The enemy is working hard to keep some very special work for God separated.

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    1. That is a tough one. Amazing how many damaging things are done in the name of the Lord, isn’t it? I have found that over time, the true character of a person emerges and they eventually dig their own grave. In times like that, I try to remember that a day of reckoning may be in the future for them. And when it comes, I want to be able to speak into that situation as an innocent victim. Because responding in any other way will come back to bite you. Every time.

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