Building Community – The Purpose and Power of Connections

How do we genuinely comprehend the magnitude of God’s intention for networks of friendship, bonds of community, and genuine alliances of faith? Whenever I write about community, I am walking on foreign soil! I am like an explorer mapping freshly discovered territory with the intention of others following and traversing similar terrain into healthy community relationships.

Jesus The Example

For my answers I must turn to Jesus Christ. No other human exemplified both the purpose and power of connections as Jesus. Jesus remains the benchmark of excellence! He chose his followers from the most unlike candidates who were

at times highfalutin and oft cantankerous,
more than a little rag-tag mixed with a pinch of upper crust,
self-centered and self-promoting.

Creating unity in community!

How did he solidify in these men unparalleled power-filled connection that would be reproduced through generations in spite of the unending assaults of government, church and society?

“He appointed twelve that they might be with him
and that he might send them out to preach”
Mark 3:14

I realize any group, large or small, must be built on two strong legs in order to not only walk out faith, but have the capacity to run the race Christ has established. The first is love and the second is honour. Without both of these pillars, our journey together will be crippled and distorted.

The entire purpose and power of connections is based on these two ingredients: love and honour. Yet in multiple meetings with recognized leaders, few mention either!

Love

When asked what the greatest of commandments was, Jesus minced no words!

“… ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40

A community of love and honour!

Paul would later dissect truth further in his letter to the Corinthians. He clarifies that without love, regardless of supernatural gifts and abilities, “I am nothing…I gain nothing”!

Any endeavour at building community without love is void and impotent.

I’m not talking about the here today and gone tomorrow shadow of  love, the touchy-feely, ooey-gooey imposter of love, or the make me “look good”, “feel good”, self-seeking mutation of love.

In true community love flows from the heart of the Father permeating every activity, conversation, discipleship, and connection. It bears repeating, without it we are nothing; we gain nothing!

Honour

When love is genuine, honour will also be sincere.

Pay to all what is owed to them:
taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed,
respect to whom respect is owed,
honor to whom honor is owed.”
Romans 13:7

Paul is writing concerning how to treat those in authority. Christ always went beyond the letter of the law manifesting the heart of truth. 

Community extends honour to all!

If the purpose of honour is to give merit, distinction or worth on the basis only of rank or status, it is a faint shadow of God’s intention, contradicting Christ’s example.

We see Jesus not just honouring people with title or position, but the lowly, despised, rejected, outcast members of His society. Honour is based not on social hierarchy, but the divine attribute and worth of being God’s image bearers.

When the heart of community is honour, it infiltrates every aspect of that community elevating each member. It is impossible to truly honour God without recognizing

  His likeness in every individual
and excellence in their personal uniqueness,
seeing purpose in His divine impartation
and gifts to His children,
while acknowledging His brilliance in every life.

By honouring the one, we honour the whole. In the honour of individuals, we honour the community.

Power of Community

The synergy of love and honour united this unlikely group of The Twelve into an undeniable re-presentation of Christ on earth.

If we believe that community is for the purpose of evangelism, we begin to treat people like a number on a list. If the attempt is keeping people from walking out the revolving back door of the church, community becomes a camouflaged prison of co-dependence. It is dangerous and deceptive to tag community’s primary purpose as discipleship. We cannot succumb to creating robotic reproductions full of knowledge and void of purpose.

Community - a fellowship of worth and purpose!

On the other hand, if every community is a fellowship of love and honour, each individual develops a sense of worth and purpose in their divine existence and calling.

People naturally encouraged and drawn into intimate relationship with Jesus
directly flows out of community.
The soil of community facilitates restoration and healing.
The wandering ones find a sense belonging.
Vibrant community environments release and develop gifts and abilities.

The united power of love and honour creates the fertile soil out which The Twelve became a hundred and the hundred became thousands, multiplying into a diverse and dominant worldwide movement unified for the glory of God.

Now that is genuine community!

“For everything comes from him and exists by his power
and is intended for his glory.
All glory to him forever!
Amen.”
Romans 11:36

Building community for the glory of Christ!

**********

Further Reading:

Friendship – Embracing Unity While Valuing Diversity

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships

Building Relationships

Building healthy relationships is one of the short suits of my life. I have become stronger over the years, but I am still learning from my mistakes. Here are my top 4 hindrances to authentic relationships. I assure you my personal list could be longer!!!

“I’m Fine”

“How are you?” Pushing ourselves to trust and answer honestly may be scary, but truth is the only soil in which healthy relationships can truly grow. To strengthen friendship and community requires risk, a risk others may be unsure to take but worth giving a try ourselves.

The LORD detests lying lips,
but he delights in people who are trustworthy.
.”

(Proverbs 12:22)

I'm Fine

Being real with one another is worth peaking beyond our shells of self-protection. An authentic response may be the first step down the road of a life-long friendship. If things are going well, this is an opportunity to rejoice together; if you are ‘turtling’ your way through a tough season, genuine support and care may be directly in front on you.

“Calm Down”

Emotionally charged environments give tangible opportunity for honesty. Emotionally transparency is key within genuinely strong communities . We need to be able to listen attentively to the hearts of those around us without trying to filter everything around our own comfort zones, laying aside critical judgments and condescending attitudes.

Communication

Studies show that women, more than men, are “wired to quickly and accurately decode or detect distress.” This alone can cause problems with relating authentically in cross-gender circles. Just as the perception of one may create precipices of risk, the lack of accurate perception may allow for bulldozing attitudes in the other! Neither is intentional! Both must be overcome! Dictating when and how every conversation will flow results in emotional distancing. Tempering without hiding keeps us from damaging and distancing those around us.

We watch Jesus fully engaged emotionally: angry, sad, joyful, or moved with compassion. His complete honesty was an open door to enjoyed just “hanging out” with Him. He was real, but he was tempered.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech
but with actions and in truth.
.”
 (I John 3:18)

“If you would just [fill in the blank] then I would…”

Without question, it’s give-and-take in developing rock solid community. How do we treat others when they are not “carrying their load”?

Putting Others First

“the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control…”
Galatians 5:22-23

There are several elements within the fruit of the spirit, that only exist in the context of going the extra mile in developing community; elements that require us to be initiators in developing a loving relationship, rather that reactors when the going gets tough.

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak
and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good,
to build them up.

Romans 15:1-2

“I’ll do it Myself!”

Bossy

“Miss Bossy” may look cute in a picture but not in real life! Years of being a cattle producer gave daily examples of why these “four-leggeds” are often called bossy…

the first to the trough; the last to leave
maintain position at all cost
take the lead or lose it
challenge me and see what happens
muscle power!

The “I’ll do it myself” thoughts are blatant reminders of those days! Haughty superiority and need for control decapitates future opportunities to develop the team relationships needed in healthy community.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought,
but rather think of yourself with sober judgment,
in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Romans 12:3

 Relationships Within Community

Community comes in many forms: a family, a leadership team, a small group or your workplace, just to name a few!

Ants go Marching

I am reminded of a walk with my children years ago. We came across an ant super-highway. It amazed us the strategy, precision and efficiency of this community of workers. Each stuck to the right side of the pathway as traffic was streaming different directions. Many struggled in the process of carrying loads disproportionately larger than they; other workers came and assisted in their struggle. For some time we crouched low, watching in amazement. Whether the worker was large or small, each shared the same mission.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Proverbs 6:6

Only yesterday, a comment from one of my sons, reminded me how far I have to go in developing godly, authentic and loving community. Unfortunately, I am very much still a “work-in-progress” in this area!

__________

Meg Gemelli  was inspiration behind this blog. Thank you!)

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Related Articles:

Beatitudes – Encouragement and Instruction for Every Circumstance!

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

 

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentic Relationships

My Call to Action

I don’t know about you but I find it challenging to live fully and freely in relationships with others while simultaneously remaining in communion with God. My call to action is living and communing authentically!

The other night, I had a vivid dream about several mountain ranges filled with high peeks. An outdoor deck nestled at the base of each mountain while a house perched solidly on the highest point. Halfway up the mountain was a “docking point” – a small out-shoot of metal.

As I viewed the sheer mountain face, I questioned how one would get from the deck to the house. Instantly, I whizzed above even the highest apex. Each mountain was a solid rock with unique and beautifully intricate marble-like veining.

Mountains

I knew that God was showing me three positions I could choose:

  • The first was on the deck, relaxing and enjoying the company of those around me
  • The second was at the top where a different kind of “dwelling” occurs! It is where I get to know God in reading the Bible, prayer, solitude, and lingering in His Presence.
  • But there is a third choice – neither up nor down! The place of “self” – disconnected from both God and others. This is the most precarious spot.

The longer I meditate on the dream the more truth it reveals of the life choices I have made and am making in relationships. Regrets, like heavy dew, settle on me as I think of how often I choose to sit in the “docking-point” – disconnected from others and trusting in the frailty of myself.

My Call to Action – Living and Communing Authentically

I feel God’s invitation to enter more transparently into the lives of all those around me while at the same time allowing Him the reins to draw me closer with Him. I can do neither in my strength or power.

To commune means to “share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with…
especially when the exchange is on a spiritual level…
to feel in close spiritual contact with.”

To fully share life together has a spiritual dimension – not just in our relationship with God and but also with others.

Community

Living fully with others may include

praying together.
sharing spiritual truths and insights,
spurring others on in their faith journey
and relationship with Jesus,
trusting Holy Spirit together to lead and direct
our lives and ministry.

The Deck

I greatly enjoy “deck” times! Hanging out… relaxing... getting to know others… often laughing… sometimes crying… reminiscing…sipping lemonade on a hot day or hot chocolate on a cold one. Relationships with family and friends fill life with a rich hue of appreciation and growing respect.

Communing

My ever-expanding circle of  friendships are woven intricately with threads of  Jesus Christ and the fullness He brings. The deck is where I introduce Christ to people!

The Mountain

I long to live continually on the mountain. Here is where my heart rests, my body restored and my mind renewed. Clothed in the full forgiveness of Christ, I approach His throne of grave,

listening and speaking,
waiting and resting,
rising early and lingering late,
fully me wrapped in Holy Him
with childlike freedom
warrior courage
maturing faith
breathing deep
trusting more…

“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another,
Know the Lord.’ because they will all know me.”

Hebrews 8:11

The first “know” in this verse means a growing kind of knowledge, to come to know and to know personally.

The second “know” is a different word meaning to perceive, to know absolutely, to have complete knowledge of.

Mountain

The mountain is where I come to know the Triune God more fully and personally and where I pray for people!

The Dock

In the middle is a desolate place! It is the place of neither hot nor cold. (Revelation 3:16) The place of disconnect with God or others! I  have the option  to go, stop or even stay here. It is the forty years in the desert place. The place where no one really wants to stop, yet where all will at some point.

Alone

Every moment is a choice  –  a choice about where I will live and commune. Will it be the deck, the mountain, or the dock? True authentic living always breathes life of God into people. Always!


Authentic Living

Lord draw me to the place of richer and deeper
fellowship with those around me.
where I am neither ashamed or afraid to
share how much You mean to me.
Lift me up, Lord, to my true resting place
the place where I can see beyond believing,
feel completely and fully,
and be fully known and loved.
Both require a level of vulnerability that
I try to avoid, but must maintain.
I ask for courage and grace to live fully
and authentically!

Want to check out other blogs about living in healthy relationships?

3 Relationships We All Need and The Reasons Why

Top 4 Hindrances to Authentic Relationships