This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s Message: I Love my church…love in community (WATCH HERE).
Community takes effort.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I will be the first to admit that I wish relationships were easy and didn’t take a lot of effort. I wish that no one would ever get their feelings hurt, put the worst construction on what you say or make assumptions about your motives and actions.
But they do.
I have a sinful nature and so does every other person. At the heart of the sinful nature is selfishness. Selfishness by definition is thinking of self (sorry for the obvious). When I think of self I don’t think of others and when I don’t think of others, relationships are not easy.
So, thanks to sin in our hearts and lives, relationships and community take effort.
Relationships are ALWAYS two-way streets. Sometimes they are lopsided and one gives more than the other for a season, but ideally the relationship is also reciprocated.
I’m grateful for the effort that Jesus made to have a relationship with me. Down to the very sacrifice of his life, was his heart of love that desired to have me (and you) as his child for eternity. Of course his love engenders my love, trust, and faithful following. His love engenders my love for him and for others. Of course I can walk away from that relationship too. I can blame Jesus for something that goes wrong. I can disagree with what he says about my life or lifestyle. I can assume that he is the cause of bad things in my life.
I would be wrong, but I can walk away.
The community of the church is to model the love Jesus has for us. To be sure, the relationships can get lopsided and perhaps at times you may feel like someone “owes” something back. But one can only control their heart and their effort. If eventually the effort is rejected, you can’t control that. You can only do as the Apostle Paul encouraged, “Make every effort!”
So what does that look like – especially in the church?
- Begin to invest in others first. On a Sunday morning strike up a conversation with someone with whom you have not met or talked with for a while. Ask them a few questions, “How as their week? What was challenging? What was rewarding? How is their family? What make them laugh this week? Etc.
- Take baby steps. Small steps to build relationships over time will foster a caring community in your church. Again you don’t have to share your life’s story on the first conversation. Just interact with someone in a meaningful and sincere way.
- Manage your expectations. People are sinful as you are. Not everyone is going to become a best friend, but people can enjoy getting along with others. Someone will say something that will be hurtful. Ask a question to clarify as often there is a story behind what was said…and we often don’t create the right one. Look for wins rather than for reasons to give up.
- Remember it’s your responsibility (and everyone else’s). Everyone working together at building community will build community much quicker than one or two people working at it. Don’t wait for someone to take initiative…do it yourself.
Remember the community of your church is the place where we get to experience and put into practice the love of Jesus. It is not always easy. It takes effort. But it will always be a blessing!
Apply: What is one thing you can do this weekend to build community with someone at your church?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for giving every effort to build relationship with us. Lead us to respond to your love by loving in community with others and making every effort we can to be a catalyst for a loving, caring community in our church. AMEN.