Do we really need community?

This post originally appeared as an exclusive article in Kirk Cameron’s new community: The Campfire. To join, sign up here.

There’s an old riddle I’ve heard circulated in Christian circles for years. It asks, “Can you serve God without serving people?”

Toss on your philosopher’s cap and you can debate this question ‘til your brain goes numb. But since I kind of like my brain to operate at full capacity, I prefer to take a shortcut through Scripture.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34–35, NLT)

Recently one of my Bible study groups discussed what it means to be committed to one another. How much time should we spend together? What does it look like to speak the truth in love? In today’s overscheduled culture, how do we apply the Bible’s admonishment to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25, NLT)?

What if Jesus were to return to Earth today? Would He find me loving, praying, and encouraging other people? I’m talking about all those verses in the Bible known as the “one-anothers”—the stuff God calls us to do for our fellow humans.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)

“Live in harmony with one another…” (Romans 12:16)

“…Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

“…Pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

“Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)

“…Spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

And that’s just scratching the surface. The New Testament records 59 different verses that reference how we are to conduct ourselves toward “one another.” The command to “love one another” is especially prevalent, repeated 15 times in six books. Do you think God wants us to care about other people?

Yes. He does.

Especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

You could say those words were written 2,000 years ago, so they can’t possibly apply anymore. But the Bible says to God one thousand years is like a day (2 Peter 3:8). His return has never been closer.

What if Jesus shows up when I’m in the middle of scrambling toward a deadline for work, or chauffeuring my kids to karate, or watching Netflix at the end of an exhausting day? It’s so easy to believe I just don’t have time for “meeting together” with believers outside my immediate family—and even then, I’m a little irked I have to feed and clothe them some days. Can’t these people take care of themselves for a change? I need my space.

Yet Jesus says it’s not my productivity or my accomplishments or even my love for Him that will show the world I’m a Christ follower. It’s my love for other people.

And love goes hand-in-hand with serving, because it’s a verb. It’s a thing we do, not just a thing we feel.

So let’s revisit the question, “Can you serve God without serving people?”

No. Not in the truest sense.

Sometimes God hammers me with a theme just to make sure I’m listening, which is why I wasn’t surprised that as I was pondering my commitment to the one-anothers last week, our pastor preached a sermon on the very topic of community. He pointed out that in the beginning, Adam was alone—which God declared was “not good” (Genesis 2:18). Keep in mind, sin hadn’t yet entered the world, therefore the man enjoyed a perfect, unbroken relationship with God—plus He worked with and for God, naming the animals (Genesis 2:19–20). {That means he was serving God! Are you getting the picture?} Yet God still described Adam as alone—and called it not good.

Adam needed the one-anothers in order for his life to be good.

What makes us think we’re any different?

This year I am resolved to make time for people. To set down my tasks for an hour to meet a friend for coffee. To invite other families over for dinner even if it means having to vacuum and dust. To follow through on weekly family devotions and game nights. And I’m going to prioritize group Bible studies over the hundred other activities that could be sucking my attention instead. Can I study the Bible all by my lonesome? Of course, and I do. You probably do, too. But something vital happens when we open ourselves up to others in the process.

We see more of God.

“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20, NLT)

My prayer for all of us is that we’ll make community a priority this year and always. Not only for our sake but for God’s. We serve Him best when we serve His children. And that is a pursuit worth our time, energy, sacrifice and praise.

This post originally appeared as an exclusive article in Kirk Cameron’s new community: The Campfire. To join, sign up here.


Becky Kopitzke is the author of “The SuperMom Myth: Conquering the Dirty Villains of Motherhood” (Shiloh Run Press) and “Generous Love: Discover the Joy of Living Generously”.Becky lives in lovely northeast Wisconsin with her husband and their two daughters, where her home office is overrun with bouncy balls and tween craft supplies. For weekly, keeping-it-real encouragement, visit Becky at beckykopitzke.com.


 

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