We were created for Community. Simple as that. And the relationships that come with community are important, whether you like it or not. Going off to college for most people is a fresh start to begin building new relationships. With this, so many students spread themselves thin in looking for the greatest number of friends, but lack the depth of true intimate friendship. What makes the community of Christ so endearing is that when it comes together as a body of vulnerability and transparency, we get a glimpse of Christ himself.
When thinking about how to better build a Christ-centered community, I’ve come up with five misconceptions I so often hear:
- It’s convenient– Community is kind of like a marriage. You have to consider other people in the decisions you make while setting aside time and rearranging your schedule to comply with theirs. Though this stretches us in ways we may not enjoy, it is ultimately good for us because it helps us grow as individuals and as image bearers in Christ. If actions are only built on personal gain, the community will not last.
- It’s optional– Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” We, as image bearers of Christ, were created to have others around pushing, guiding, and supporting us. We were not meant to be alone. When we surround ourselves with a community of Christ followers, Christ is most reflected in us and we are most satisfied in Him. Community isn’t optional. It is a necessary entity for each of God’s people to flourish.
- It can be built through social media– Instead of building community where we are presently, we strive to be in a handful of different places at once. Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, calls this the “Goldilocks’ Effect,” meaning people don’t wish for others to be too far, but they don’t wish for them to be too close either. It’s as if people want companionship, without intimate friendship. Social media has allowed individuals to control what they say, when they say it, and how they say it. Though social networking can give off the appearance to offer intimacy and community, it doesn’t lead to a flourishing substantive friendship.
The nature of God is a community in and of itself. People have a desire for relationships because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have a relationship. The way the three interact with one another gives a vision of how the children of Christ should live in community together. Human beings were created for intentional community. Instead of love being self-preserving, it is self-giving. Brian Burchik, author of #LiveFully, says, “At the core, it’s self-giving [love], and this quality must distinguish the Christian community more than any other.” So many communities are focused on coming together as a diverse group of people, but they lack the self-giving love that only Christ can bring.