They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
You know what’s not so great about getting older? Well, for starters there’s the gray hair. And then the memory loss . . . no, let’s call that “a recall challenge.”
But another issue that has really stood out to me as not so great as I’ve aged is community. Or the lack thereof. Community truly is the buzz concept these days. In churches, there are now “community groups,” otherwise known as small groups. And outside of the Christian bubble, it’s interesting to see that even Hollywood has covered the topic of community in several recent films—The Way, Seven Days in Utopia, The Help, Dolphin Tale and even Winnie the Pooh.
The fact is: We were created for relationship, as we help one another and walk this journey together.
I remember how easy it used to be to find community when I was a younger. I was four years old on the first day of Sunday school at my new church, and I met Holli. She sat by me, and we started talking. By the end of the hour, we were buddies. And we’ve been friends ever since. How easy was that?
Continuing through elementary, junior high and high school, it was no trouble to find others who were likeminded or wanted to spend time with me and had my back. My community was bountiful—almost effortless—and I cherished every minute of it. Doing life together with my dear brothers and sisters in Christ yielded many meaningful and uplifting moments together, and I truly treasure those years.
After college, as people entered into the different life stages (career, marriage, parenthood) and some even moved away, it seemed like it wasn’t as easy to find community anymore. All of a sudden I didn’t have the community that occurred naturally and was readily available to me in structured settings such as school or youth group or social organizations.
Now that I was older, I realized I would have to do a little extra work to find community for myself.
In 1 Peter 4:10 we read: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I love that verse, because it reminds us of our responsibility as believers in the lives of others. We are instruments of God’s grace. That means we are to be proactive in reaching out, instead of waiting for someone to reach out to us. And when we do reach out to others, not only can we help one another tangibly, prayerfully and with our spiritual gifts, but we can also find community.
In recent years, I’ve found it in some unexpected places, and if you looked at my list of friends I consider my “community,” you would find all different ages and shoe sizes. I’ve even found community with complete strangers.
In fact, this past summer I met a lovely father and son while on a return flight home from a trip. I’m never afraid to chat up a stranger, and it didn’t take us long to get a great conversation going. Throughout our discourse, I found out that the father and son were also believers, and so this added an even sweeter depth to our mile-high discussion.
As the flight prepared for landing, the father leaned over and told me that he felt that our meeting on the plane and time spent sharing with each other was providential, and that he and his son had been blessed. I wholeheartedly concurred and came home from that trip very much encouraged and felt like my spirit had been lifted. I didn’t have to reach out to them, and they didn’t have to reach out to me. But we did, and God was there in our midst during our two-hour conversation.
By God’s grace, I happened to find community on a plane one day. Which just goes to show: if you’re looking, community is where you find it.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Acts 2:42-47 describes what community looked like in the first Christian church. How does what you read apply to you today? Are you part of a thriving community? Do you long to be? Ask God to reveal how you can reach out to others and where you should be looking for community in your life today.