Day 1:Why were Jesus and his disciples so concerned with community? Jesus’ disciples (the founders of the Church) understood that Jesus was not simply an equation that leads to eternal life. Although this is true, they knew firsthand that Jesus was constantly living his life as an example for His followers to, well, to follow. One of the key principles Jesus taught and lived out was loving people.1 Thessalonians 2:8says “Because welovedyou so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” Jesus didn’t call us to simply believe some important things, He calls us to a way of life, to love others as he has loved us. There is no better way to do this than to share our lives with people who are naturally in our everyday lives. Pray that God will help you see the opportunities to enhance the relationships in your life this week. Pray that He would show you practical steps to take towards sharing in life with others.
Day 2:Community is a sum of the relationships you are involved in. This is all inclusive. From work to intramural basketball leagues and school to small groups, communities are everywhere. What communities are you a part of? Do you have community in the communities you are a part of? What opportunities to love others do you have in your real, everyday life? Jesus was very clear that loving people was and would be a priority for those who follow Him. Jesus lived and taught as if people need to be loved and to love other and it is by and through this that we become more like him. Jesus taught that there is an inseparable connection between us, we are brothers and sisters, we’re all His kids. Which includes you! Are you in community with someone that is there to love on you as you love others? How about a small group? What steps can you take in your group to care for and love each other? What steps can you take to engage on a deeper level in your small group or with other areas of community you are involved in?
Day 3:Jesus taught that everyone needs community, especially people who don’t already have it, those who are on the outside looking in. He prioritized his time in a manner that enabled him to be with the loneliest people for most of his ministry. This isn’t a coincidence. When Jesus says that it isn’t the healthy who need a doctor but the sick (Mark 2:17), He was with some of the loneliest people of his day talking to, even correcting some of the religious leaders who tended to separate people out instead of include. He knew it would be impossible to love them if he wasn’t with them. Community doesn’t mean a long-distance donation; it means intentional personal encounters with real people. $20 might have the power to feed someone but loving and being there for someone opens the door for Jesus to change their life. Is there someone in your life that needs comforting? How can you step into a relationship rooted in loving them, sharing your life with them, instead of trying to change them?
Day 4:Do you prioritize community? Americans have a serious time management problem. Of all developed countries, we typically work the longest weeks and take the fewest days off. This often makes prioritizing time for relationships very difficult and speaks to what our culture holds as a priority. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, but most of us don’t even know five of our neighbors first and last names. How are we, who are called to go and make disciples by living out the example demonstrated by Christ (Matthew 28:19-20) going to make a real impact if we ignore the second of Jesus’ two greatest commandments (Mark 12:30)? We are implicitly called to love our neighbors, which as Jesus showed us, must be done on a human level in our everyday lives. Think about your neighbors. How can you form relationship with them? Is there a neighbor who could use help with a project? Could you organize a BBQ to get to know one another? What would that look like? The goal being relationship and loving them as Jesus loves and accepts you.
Day 5:Community is one of the hardest things to build. There is no way to fake it. There is no way to do it a “just little bit”. It takes stepping into awkwardness, being vulnerable, a lot of patience, grace and forgiveness, and it will be inconvenient. It is a lot easier to watch TV or relax every evening after work or school than to engage in others, but that is not what the early Church had in mind for one another. The disciples understood that relationships take endurance and perseverance (Acts 2:42-47). Take some time to reflect on what it would mean to you for someone to come alongside you in your biggest struggle or even your successes? What would it be like to have someone to talk to, think with, and pray with? What would it be like to be in community where you are known deeply? What is keeping you from committing to this kind of community? How could being a part of this kind of community change you?How could it help you to become more like Jesus? Are you willing to work for this type of community? Consider spending time with your small group to discuss these thoughts. Take time to honestly discuss where you are as a group and what kind of community you are striving for. If you aren’t in a small group, will you take the step to join one or even start one? Reach out to Patrick Hukriede, Small Groups Pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can help you.