God has been wrecking my heart when it comes to Christ-centered community lately. What it looks like. How to create it. Why it is essential in our Christian walk.
Over the past few years, I’ve experienced some heartbreaks in friendship. Some of the constant friends in my life have chosen to take a back seat for various reasons. I honestly never saw it coming, and I’ve felt betrayed, hurt, abandoned.
And it has been hard. SO hard.
But if our God is anything, He is faithful.
While I could have chosen to sit at home and nurse my wounds, I also know that is not the life God has called us to live. Isolating myself from others with the fear of getting hurt was not at all biblical.
So I resolved to put on my big girl pants and seek out other Christ-centered friends in my life.
Recently, I committed to a weekly fellowship with a small group of women. This group was originally designed to walk through a specific Bible study together. But it has grown into so much more.
It started as all new groups do. Kind of awkward at first as we all got to know one another. Somewhat surface level as we learned to trust each other.
But over the months, God has bonded our hearts in a way that only He can do.
We have grown in our friendships, and have committed to share the real things we are dealing with. The hard things God is walking us through. The seemingly impossible situations we are facing.
We share encouraging verses throughout the week. We discuss the things we are learning as we study the Bible. And we intentionally point each other to Jesus.
God has taken this little mismatched group of women, all in different seasons and stages of life, and has knit us into a group that is dedicated to reaching out and pouring into each other. On purpose and often.
God has formed a group of true “iron sharpens iron” friendships. A sisterhood is forming before my very eyes. And I am just so in awe that while God might have pruned one pivotal friendship in my life, He was setting the stage to replace it with a whole group of women!
Only God can line things up to prepare to meet a need you don’t even know you will have.
If I’m being honest, the beauty that has come out of this group of women has opened my eyes even more to the ugliness in our Church. The selfishness in many women’s ministries. The perfectly structured theologies that lack genuine love and friendship and “go out of our way to be there for others” mentality.
I’ve been frustrated with women who claim they want gospel-centered community, but don’t want to do the hard work that comes with it.
I’ve also been frustrated with women who hide behind social media, calling out sin in a FB post and slapping a hashtag up there to label it as discipleship or sharing truth. Instead of picking up the phone and speaking life into their friend.
Discipleship is not a hashtag. Discipleship is not a FB post. Discipleship is walking alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ, gently helping them correct the sin in their life, pointing them to Jesus, and asking them to do the same for you.
I’ll be the first to say it is hard. It is inconvenient. It is intimidating. But it is what God commands of us as believers!
He calls us to community.
He calls us to do life WITH others. Not away from others. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s messy.
He calls us to forgive. Always. Even when they hurt us time and time again. Even when they are wrong. Especially when they are wrong.
He calls us to look inside ourselves and deal with the ugliness, the hurts, the fears, the scars. And then to share them with others! To confess our sins and our insecurities to other believers.
To ignore our ugliness, to hide our sin from others, and to push them down so we don’t have to deal with them is not okay. It is sin.
He calls us to bring darkness to light. In others and in ourselves. Not in a passive-aggressive Facebook post or a cute curated Scripture. But in the context of daily living, in the confines of authentic, biblical, selfless friendship.
I’ve seen firsthand that the fruit of these selfless friendships is so sweet. When we are obedient to the call of community, when we love others freely, when we serve others expecting nothing in return, we will find ourselves in the midst of some of the greatest friendships ever.
I’ve learned so much about community these past few months.
I’ve learned that it takes dedication. You have to be committed to be intentional in pouring into others before they might choose to pour into you.
I’ve learned that it takes vulnerability. You have to put down your hair and show your real self, opening up your heart so God can use people to fill it with His truth and His grace and His Word.
I’ve learned that it should be given freely. We should love others, share our hearts, and reach out expecting nothing in return. Even when it is not reciprocated. Even when it is discouraging.
But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that community is not about convenience. It’s about commitment. True community, gospel-centered relationships that truly do life with one another, takes time to grow. Sometimes we have to say no to other things. Maybe we need to be more persistent with the people God has placed in our lives instead of giving up too easily.
It might be inconvenient to pour selflessly into others. To give of yourself sacrificially when you have your own life to live.
But God has called us to do just that. Our church should be our family. Our relationships should extend beyond just Sunday mornings. We should be in communion with other believers all throughout the week. We should be doing life together, sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly. Seven days a week.
If you are seeking gospel-centered relationships and don’t know where you will find it, really spend some time thinking and praying about the people who are already in your life. Are there women who are already in your circle that you can be more intentional with?
Can you start a small group of women who can meet once a week for a while to walk through a Bible study together? Can you be more intentional about being open and honest and vulnerable with your sisters in Christ?
My prayer for you, for all of my sisters in Christ, is that we stop waiting for the perfect people to come into our lives one day, and instead we embrace the imperfect people God has put in our lives right now.
That we love others freely, expecting nothing in return.
That we give of ourselves selflessly, and show the same grace to others that Christ shows us every single day. Sometimes unreciprocated. Always undeserved. Forever and unending.