One Sunday, I was sitting in our normal Sunday service at Woodland Park Baptist Church. Dr. Brian Kinlaw was preaching as he typically does, but this Sunday happened to be a sermon on the church in Acts. Though a passage preached by many, Dr. Kinlaw was able to present it in a different light. He brought up four priorities that had created the community of the early church:
Through this sermon, God truly spoke to my heart to remind me that sometimes the community that you need is much more than what you personally want out of a group of individuals.
In recent years, I have searched long and hard for my “community”. My search was based on the normal expectations one may have; encouragement, fun, laughter, people cheering me on, etc. Good community seemed to be about all the things others could provide for me. Yet, I would always fall into a deep disappointment when this community I sought after wouldn’t meet my expectations. Come to find out, my expectations were all wrong. The community I should seek after and the community I really needed was not just about my personal fulfillment, but was about what God wanted and what I could do for others. The four principles I learned from Dr. Kinlaw that Sunday morning helped me form a new understanding of good community.
We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people, but we have something special that the Lord has given us. He gave us His word to guide us through our lives, teach us His story, and so much more. One thing His word teaches us is how important love is. Digging deep into His word leads us to the true understanding of what a genuine love is, the kind of love that the Lord has for us. But His love does not stop at yourself, it goes as deep as an ocean and as far your imagination can take you. The love He has for you is perfect and pure, and the love He has for your neighbor is perfect and pure as well. Fully loving the Lord means comprehending the love He has for us and loving others more fully as a result.
I think as a Christian searching for community, we must remember that we play an important part in what we search for. We have a responsibility just as the person sitting next to us does. Part of having a good community means that we are in this life together. It is not just about who cheers you on, it’s about how we all cheer one another on. It is about how we all come together when one is in pain physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally. We are called not only to welcome those around us, but to love them deeply regardless of their story.
We’re not only called to love and invest in one another, but we are called to worship the Lord together. The early church was always sure to praise Him together, to cry out to Him together, to thank Him together. They worshiped Him together regardless of their circumstances. The Lord wants us to come to Him together, He wants to see us rejoice together and come together for pure worship.
I think we often may take for granted that each Sunday morning, Wednesday night, and other times we have the privilege of coming together in a building and singing to our sweet, loving Lord. We have the blessing of coming together as a community set apart from a selfish world to serve a selfless God. A Christ-seeking community is more than what you could want for yourself. In this community you will be surrounded by people pouring out their hearts to the Lord while sitting next to you encouraging you to do the same.
You may never find a perfect community ever in your life, but you can be part of a united, life-giving, God-honoring group of people. You can be part of this group when you walk into the doors of your church, when you share with one another in your small group, when you throw up your hands with many others on a Sunday morning singing His praise. It can be difficult to set aside the selfish wants of your ideal community, but by choosing to seek God’s ideal community instead, you find what you are really looking for.
“A community that is hungry for the Lord and His word is a community that grows, loves, and learns together.”- Dr. Brian Kinlaw