“And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’” Genesis 2:18a
There are over 7 billion human beings in the world, and yet, we may still feel lonely. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t take the time to really get to know others. We might mingle between meetings or catch up at the water cooler, but that isn’t real, authentic community. It’s important to spend time alone with God, soaking up His Word. But God didn’t intend for us to live in isolation. He designed us to crave and to thrive in relationship with others. We’re our best selves when we’re experiencing life with other believers, whether you’re single or married. Everyone needs community. The Bible has a lot to say about this topic! Here are four reasons the Bible says community is so great.
1. Community is encouraging. Being in community gives you the chance to be around people at different stages of their faith journey and to bear their burdens alongside of them (Gal. 6:2). Everyone has something to teach and to learn. In fact, it creates the ideal environment to be a Barnabas (friend), pursue a Paul (teacher), or train a Timothy (student). See Hebrews 10:24-25
2. Community is fun. Community should never feel boring or forced. In fact, it should be the exact opposite. Psalm 133:1 (NIV) tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Yes, community has a higher purpose. But it should also be enjoyable!
3. Community attracts the Holy Spirit. The Bible says the Holy Spirit is present whenever believers gather together (Matt. 18:20). The early church of Acts made a habit of meeting together, eating together, and worshiping together. As a result, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46–47 NIV).
4. Community fosters love. 1 Cor. 13 ends with, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Paul held love above all else in his letter to the Colossians as well: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Col. 3:13–14). Community is life-giving and essential to following Christ. Scripture says that’s because we’re better together than we are alone (Rom. 12:4–5).
Community is not only God’s desire for us, it is also a sign of a mature faith. When we grow in our relationships with others, we’re growing in relationship with Him!
“Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.” John 13:8b
This passage is the basis of Maundy Thursday, the least understood but surely the most intimate of the Paschal Triduum (the three days of Easter). Most people, even non-Christians have heard of Good Friday and Easter, the last two days of the Triduum. But most people don’t know much about this important Thursday observance.
Maundy Thursday come from “mandatum novum” (new commandment, Latin), referring to John 13. Jesus was hosting a meal, known as the Last Supper, for His disciples. In the middle of the meal, Jesus got up from the meal, wrapped a towel around His waist and proceeded to wash the feet of His disciples. He ends His loving act by giving the new mandate to love one another.
Perhaps Maundy Thursday is not on our radar because, let’s be honest, who wants to be reminded that Jesus humbled Himself to do the task of a slave? To be sure, we want to celebrate Him as the risen King and Lord of creation. Who wants to be reminded that Jesus lived out the truth of His teaching, “the first must be the last,” and even today, He is willing to touch us where we are the most vulnerable and wash us where the “dirt” in our lives can’t be seen. Who wants to be reminded of the offensive in our lives at all? Who among us does not want to shy away from being intimately seen and known in our most wounded self by another?
Peter balked at Jesus’ action, but Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me.” In other words, “Unless you let Me do this, unless you let Me humble Myself, unless you let Me embrace you in your shame, you cannot truly share My life, My mission and My love.” If we don’t let Jesus into our lives where we are most vulnerable, ashamed and broken, we don’t let Jesus into our lives at all.
We learn from Jesus’ action that God’s love is unconditional. And we, who share in His life and are followers of Jesus, are called to love and serve others in the same way; unconditionally. In order for us to love and serve others unconditionally, we must first receive Jesus’s unconditional love and humble service.
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Some time ago, my wife Andrea and I were discussing whether to attend a wedding to which we had been invited or to simply send money as a wedding gift. Though we both wanted to go, and felt we should, I found myself asking, I wonder if the couple would rather have the money that we would spend on travel (it was a considerable distance away) as a wedding gift?
I remember international missionaries once sharing with me that a church had spent tens of thousands of dollars to send a large mission team halfway around the world to serve with them for a few days. They were grateful for the help and encouraged by the fellowship. But they also shared candidly, "We couldn't help but think how much more we could have accomplished here with that money if they had stayed home and just sent the money."
When the question presents itself at the time of someone's death, it often has the additional pressure of urgency because there is often little advance notice and little time to make a good decision about going.
Experiences like these underscore the difficult question, “How much is my physical presence worth?” Or, stated more casually and commonly, “Shall I go, or just send something?”
How much is someone's physical presence worth? It's an excellent, spiritual question to ponder. Could Jesus have just "sent" the gift of salvation, without coming personally? Could He have dispatched someone else to the cross, or was it supremely, eternally important that He be there Himself?
The Gospel of John tells us when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, He chose not just to be present with us, but to become one of us. Through Jesus, God entered into our condition not just with sympathy, but with immeasurable sacrifice.
In God's love and amazing grace, He chose to become human, to embrace mortality for the sake of our immortality. How much was the physical presence of Jesus worth? It was worth everything. It was worth our eternal lives.
By the way, my wife and I are grateful for those who traveled great distances to attend our wedding. I sometimes wonder why they went to such trouble. Now, decades later, we remember very few of their wedding gifts, but we still remember their presence.
There's a worship song that says in part, "I'll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon that cross." That's certainly true. I wonder if we don't reflect more on the gift of salvation than we do the very presence of "God dwelling among us." The gift of salvation is with us, both now on earth and throughout eternity in heaven. The value of His very presence eclipses even the value of His wonderful gift. Afterall, His name is Immanuel (God with us).
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
Today we are celebrating another year of God’s goodness. Thirty-one years ago, the Lord led us to this place where we began our journey of faith individually and corporately. Many of you accepted Christ and were baptized here, a few of you exchanged your marriage vows here, some gave birth and raised your children here. Through all these events, you have experienced the marvelous goodness of God.
The promise of Philippians 4:19 has been fulfilled in the life of our church many times over. I could without hesitation say that our church is probably one of the most generous Chinese churches in Southern California. Up to today, we have gone through at least seven phases of church planting and building endeavors; in 1988, we purchased our Cerritos campus, in 1989, we acquired the Berean Educational Center, in 1992, we built our Alpha Worship Center, in 1999, we completed our Family Life Center, in 2010, we demolished the old building and built anew our current Discipleship Training Center, in 2012, we church-planted and acquired the facilities in Fullerton, and in 2014, we church-planted our Oakland campus and acquired its facilities in 2017.
Not only are we focus on the needs of our church in expanding and extending His Kingdom, we also participated in many of the disaster programs in India, Philippines, China, etc. Furthermore, we sponsored over 100 children through Compassion International. For all these tremendous projects, the Lord has shown His goodness to us by providing for all our needs. The main reason people respond to God’s work was because they experienced the generosity of God. The more they gave, the more they were blessed. “The merciful, kind and generous man benefits himself.” (Prov. 11:17 Amplified)
In the same manner, just think of the people around you. Whom are you most grateful for? Aren’t they not the ones who invested the most in you, gave you their time, money, energy, love, etc.? Our God is a generous God. The Bible reminds us the law of the universe is: Whatever you plant, you’re going to harvest. Reap what you sow. In other words, whatever you give out, you get them back and more. Since we freely receive, let us freely give as a demonstration of our gratitude. In celebration of God’s goodness, let us make August a thanksgiving month. Give thanks to God by showing others His goodness. You cannot give thanks without giving. You cannot love without giving. Remember, you make a living by what you earn, but you make a life by what you give.
Let’s celebrate! To God be the glory !