Everyone needs community. It’s a part of being alive as we reach for others and seek to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. This is inherent and it’s a part of the full picture God has for us. As children we learn this through sports, boy and girl scouts, classmates, teachers and more. We’re taught being a part of a team and doing things together is better than doing them alone. If you think about it, these are huge lessons that are instilled in us. What’s amazing is that we can remember specific moments at school or playing little league sports and birthday parties where we had our friends over to be together. Some of our best memories are tied in with these moments and they impact us for the entirety of our lives. All of this speaks to the universal truth of why we need community.
But, then we grow up.
Things change and the innocence of being together and sharing with others is quickly exchanged for isolation and self-perseveration. It happens to all of us as we get hurt, rejected, picked on and embarrassed, leaving us filled with distrust and on guard to whoever comes our way. It seems by high school we fortify ourselves with cliques, groups and classifications of who is cool and who is accepted. We do this to be protected and moreover, have community. From this point in our lives we continue along this way of thinking and it leaves us fearful and insecure when it comes to community. This shows up with our connections and spills over into church.
Because of this reality many of us are flinched coming to church; therefore, when asked to be a part or to give we shut down and say, “I told you they were going to do this.” The childhood lessons we learned about sharing, serving, giving, and being a part are traded in for protecting our own interest at all cost. But this leaves us unfulfilled and incomplete in the purpose God has for our lives. In fact, His plan for us always includes others and this is why we all need A Healthy, Imperfect Community. Jesus formed His church to be His family on the Earth. His intent was for us to come together and shine as His light, thus conquering darkness through the victory He won for us. His heart is that saved people serve people and that found people help find people. His church is a place of acceptance and belonging as everyone has a spot at the table. This really is taking us back to the childhood lessons we learned with innocence, which explains why He said, “unless you’re converted like a child, you can’t enter the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 18:3). The idea of A Healthy, Imperfect Community requires childlike faith to trust and move forward one step at a time. In this spiritual family is our purpose, our hope and our support to be who called us to be.
However, His church is imperfect and we feel the sting of this reality.
Have you been hurt in church? Chances are, if you’ve ever been to a church then the answer is most likely, yes. Everyone who serves Jesus is imperfect and is in the process of healing. No one has arrived and we all are navigating our own issues as we serve Christ. Yet, in the middle of this, people hurt and get hurt with those they worship with and this can leave us confused and shut down. But, our job is not to control others, it’s simply to govern our own heart in a healthy way. The plot of the enemy is always to isolate and shut us down from community. This is because, when we’re alone we’re vulnerable to temptation, believing lies and being overcome by the agenda of hell.
Notice what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:12 –
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”Ecclesiastes 4:12
When we’re alone, there will be an attack that will overwhelm us and that we can’t win. If we do, we’ll be defeated. But, when we have A Healthy, Imperfect Community someone can stand back to back with us and we’ll defeat what’s coming at us. This truth can’t be emphasized enough as all of us have isolated in our moment of shame, hurt and disappointment, wanting to shut down and sulk in our stuff, but there’s a better way. God’s plan includes A Healthy, Imperfect Community that helps make us more than we could be by ourselves. This is His way. This is His plan and this is His heart for all of us.
So how do we process an Imperfect Community?
This is a great question since many times our expectations are not reality when it comes to being with others in church. The truth is others are imperfect and we are too. Our propensity is to see others’ issues and not our own. We look at things from only our perspective, which means we point our finger to blame and neglect what we’ve done. This often causes too many people to leave church and say, “they’re hypocrites” or “they hurt me, so I quit.” These statements are self-centered and they give no outward introspection to what the bigger picture is. The main picture is that we become more like Jesus through these moments by forgiving, loving and overcoming our short comings and others too. When we pull the plug in the midst of offense or disappointment, we’re giving up on what God has for us and this happens too many times. When we do this, we’re demanding our way, which will leave us lonely and empty.
Therefore, we must embrace A Healthy, Imperfect Community.
Meaning, we do life together and we handle conflict the Bible way. Matthew 18 gives us the pattern to follow when we rub against the imperfections of ourselves and of others. I like to say, “We talk to people, not about people.” Yet, this is not what happens most of the time so we have, passive aggressive acts, outburst of confusion and unforgiveness boiling within. This is the enemy using things to isolate us into a wrong community. A healthy community fosters open and honest talking so nothing is hiding in the closet of discord. It’s a community that embraces differences but worships Jesus together. It’s a community that doesn’t control others but empowers others to be who God called them to be. It’s not trying to be better than others, but rather it seeks to be better individually. It’s a community that makes adjustments for each other and lays down the pride of excuses. It’s a place where everyone is welcomed and loved where they are. The rules of a club-like atmosphere are traded in for the love of God embracing people and then God changes them through the Holy Spirit.
This is possible and this is where God wants you!
Are you a part of A Healthy, Imperfect Community? If not, choose this today. God is with you and He will help through the good things and through the imperfect things. Overlook the distractions and keep your eyes on Jesus. He created the church for you, so He could move through you. He wants to give what you need in this life and this includes others coming around you. I encourage you to embrace this, take the steps to let go of your hurt and be who God called you to be. Be a part of something bigger than you! God is there!
In fact, I challenge you to give something in A Healthy, Imperfect Community. Don’t stay on the sidelines but get on the field and make a difference. It’s when we give to others that our world enlarges past ourselves. This is when we grow in compassion and understanding because living a life of self-preservation is boring and short sighted. Allow Him to make your heart bigger, to make your dreams bigger and to do bigger things through you. Therefore, be a part of A Healthy Imperfect Community and grow to new places in Jesus.
Please remember, this is what we all want and since our childhood we’ve reached for it. So let the process of Jesus work in your life. Let Him do a new thing in you and watch what happens next!
I believe in you and the best is yet come,