A little over a year ago, I felt like I was supposed to put together a retreat specifically for the young women in my family. The theme of the weekend would be, fellowship in community. The goal was to bring us together in a way that went beyond the normal formalities. It ended up being a time I will never forget and a source of beauty I will reference in my memory until the day I leave this earth.
At one point during the retreat, I had everyone hold hands and sing along to a song titled, “I Need You To Survive.” If you know me, I am not a very physically affectionate person, so even though I initiated the gesture, it was a challenge. I then took it up a notch and sang the song face to face to everyone in the circle. Talk about feeling raw and open, but it was in that kumbaya moment that it sank into my soul that I needed everyone in that community to survive.
We are not an island unto ourselves. Although we like to live and think that way, it is inherently contradictory to the way we were destined to operate. We are beings made in the image of our Maker and I’m not talking hands and feet. God Himself, as expressed through scripture is a being in relationship. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are constantly giving of themselves to one another in holy union. As a result of this nature, He created beings whom He could lavish His love upon and who in return would do so towards others.
We Were Made To Exist In Community
It was told from the very beginning that God in his plurality, saw man in his singularity, and said it was not good to be alone. Community is a part of the image/character of God. In this, a reality exists in which we are outward focused and not centered on the subjective self isolating wants of the individual.
In Christianity, we refer to our community as the Body of Christ. This presents the image of a unit with interconnected parts all working together to properly function. This is the ideal but how often do we actually achieve this type of interconnectedness that God in His very nature models for us? Unfortunately, not often enough.
I heard this example used once. We often treat community like a bag of marbles. We congregate together based on our common spiritual experiences, etc., but when one marble slips through the mesh bag it doesn’t really affect the bunch. In reality, Christ’s community is meant to be experienced like grapes on a vine. Although, each grape has a personal connection to the vine, the whole cluster shares a common source and therefore a common fate. When one is plucked there is a noticeable gap. When one is rotting, usually the ones closest to it are next to go. What is happening to you affects me and vice versa. Our connection to God may be personal but it is not private.
I need you to grow and you need me. We are to be challenged by one another, loved on and encouraged towards good deeds among many other things. I need you in my ‘business’ asking me how have I stewarded God’s blessings in my life. You need me calling your attitude into question when you didn’t get your own way. If our fellow man is slipping away, I hope we care enough to not let him go without a fight. And when times are hard, we need the comfort of one another and the shared empathy of our Savior to get us through. We cannot run this race on our own and that is exactly how our God designed it to be. Life together, centered on one another in Him, ensuring the survival of the of the whole and not just one self. I need you to survive.
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