And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him- a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ESV Ecclesiastes 4:12
We had the privilege of having a good friend from college to our home for dinner last night. We hadn’t seen her or really kept up with her (other than Facebook) over that time, and were pleasantly surprised to find out easily the relationship reconnected. She shared with us many of the life lessons she has learned over the past fifteen years, and we were encouraged that God had been teaching all of us many of the same lessons. The one thing she indicated she has learned to value the most is the importance of being in community with other believers.
We shared stories of friends who had walked away from church and found themselves outside of community–and really struggled. We grieved over marriages that had fallen apart in isolation–cut off from friends and community that may have helped. We considered challenging work situations, where it’s hard to be a Christian light in a dark world–and realized the importance of Christian mentors in the workplace. We discussed the value of community within the church–especially across social lines (senior citizens with young people, singles with marrieds, adults with kids). We also acknowledged the work it takes to maintain community. My outgoing calls on my phone have always outnumbered my incoming by at least three to one.
On Thursdays, I reflect on my relationships with others. My focus is often on the people I am trying to reach with the gospel, or those I am actively discipling…in other words, those I am pouring into. However, I should also reflect on my relationships to see which of them bring me benefit as well. It’s not that we look to have selfish relationships, but we realize that in community, with others, we are stronger. God designed us to face life together, and through community we do this. Granted, our strongest community is always with fellow believers who have been transformed by the gospel. However, even apart from the gospel, being with other people strengthens us. How’s your community? Are you actively connecting to other people whom you mutually encourage? Take time today to connect with an old friend. You will find yourself encouraged.