“Community” is a little bit of a buzzword in Christian culture today. In order to fight the contemporary problems of isolation, loneliness, and depression, we often identify the solution as a community. But what do we mean when we say that? There are a few things that we receive from an authentic community that cannot be found in isolation.
Community brings about honesty.
No one can be heavily invested in another’s life without finding out a thing or two about the people you spend time with. You can put on a mask or a facade, but you will either not have the healing community that we’re talking about, or you will become so tired that you will become isolated.
This means the ugly stuff. Like the real ugly stuff. Addictions, hatred, past experiences received from others, past experiences done to others, the whole you. You can’t let community shape what you don’t allow it to touch. So if you want your community to help you through an addiction, you got to be honest about an addiction.
If you want your community to tell you the truth about what you experienced, you have to share what you experience.
This does not mean sharing everything with everyone, but if you want your community to shape part of your life, you have to let them in on it.
Community brings about perseverance.
William Shakespeare once wrote a poem about love entitled Sonnet 116. He wrote that “Love is not loving which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove.” In other words, love sticks around no matter how hard the times get.
Since the community is about loving others and being loved by others, it naturally means loving others faithfully and being loved by others faithfully. Obviously, this is a lot easier said than done, but if you’re not willing to commit through the hard stuff, then you cap where your community can grow you.
Community brings about humility.
If you are surrounding yourself with people who think differently, act differently, look differently, or grew up differently than you did, then you are not going to agree on everything. The best communities See multiple perspectives on single topics and challenge you in a way that cannot be done on one’s own.
This means that you’ll probably run across the fact that some way that you thought, acted, or spoke may have been less than ideal. As hard as this can be to admit, nothing will show you it faster than a community that you surround yourself with.
And it is okay to change your mind! It’s okay to have been wrong. It’s not fun, but it is always okay, and humility is a positive thing to embrace, not a shameful thing to feel.
Now that we know what we mean when we talk about community, the question is, “Is community the solution to fighting isolation, loneliness, and depression.” I would say that yes indeed it does, but not because of honesty, perseverance, and humility. No.
A community that brings honesty, perseverance, and humility is a community that brings us, Jesus.
And Jesus is the solution to fighting isolation, loneliness, and depression.
Jesus honestly prayed to God in the garden that he didn’t want to go to the cross. Jesus persevered the beatings, the thorns, and the carrying of a cross. Jesus humbly hung on a cross. He did all of this so that we could have a community with him, and as we try to look like him, we can have this community with others.
Mitch graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL, where he studied Evangelism and Discipleship with an emphasis in Intercultural Ministries. He blogs at his own website about how the Gospel impacts the way we ought our lives. He was a Golden State Warriors fan before it was cool and is considered a semi-professional Kan Jam player in his hometown.