By Mandy Winkler
What does community mean to you? Growing up I always thought "community" was the place where you lived, and the people that surrounded you were part of your community. And yes, that is one definition of community. However, after moving to Dallas a few years ago and really learning what actually "being in community" meant, I was able to really reflect on where I had experienced community before.
Upon learning about community, I was able to see that the first time I really experienced this close-knit bond with people where Christ is the center was in college. The community that God placed around me freshman year helped pull me out of the depression I had felt and brought me to life in Christ. They pointed me towards who I am in Christ and not who I am through the eyes of others. That community was the first place I experienced "art worship" (ask me if you would like to know more), and that changed the way I was able to experience Christ.
Then, moving on to Tulsa and not having a close community, I was able to see the importance Christ placed on community in our lives. Christ called us to be a part of the body and fellowship with other believers on a deeper level. As it states in 1 Corinthians 12:13-27, we all have a function in the body of Christ and are all gifted in different areas. That is the beauty of everyone in your group being different than you. However, when you are living in community with others it is easy to see everyone else’s faults and not their gifts. I would encourage you, if you are in a group, to look at what you don't understand about a person and how that trait may actually be a gift God gave them to function as a part of the body of Christ. They may have the ability to minister to people in a different way than you; encourage them in that and spur them on.
I think that sometimes community gets put in a box, but it's your group, family, or friends that love you enough to "do life with you." They lovingly point out your shortcomings, get excited when you are doing the Lord's will, keep you accountable with authenticity, and spur you on to pursue Christ more everyday (Proverbs 27:17). For me, the most exciting part about community is that we get to be the hands and feet of Christ to each other. We get the opportunity to show the same grace Christ gave us, to others. And let me tell you, if you have been in community, you know how much grace you get to give others and how much grace is given to you.
We are called to live in community and not live in isolation. Do you have community? If not, let me tell you what it’s done for me. Or, come to the next Grouplink, which begins April 28.