This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s Message: I Love my church…love in community (WATCH HERE).
Are you willing to tear down the fence?
“Don’t throw your trash in my backyard, my backyard, my backyard
Don’t throw your trash in my backyard, my backyard’s full!”
This little ditty was the verse we would often use to warm up in choir. I sang it on Sunday in the message, so listen to it there if you want the melody!
To be honest, I hadn’t really remembered these phrases and melodies for years…until this week.
I don’t want my neighbor’s trash in my backyard. I have enough to deal with on my own to take on the others around me. For us, that would be seven households that have some border on our backyard fence due to the layout of the property. That’s a lot of trash. Sure, I’d be more happy to throw my trash in their yard, but I wouldn’t want theirs in mine.
What does this have to do with community and the church?
We build fences around our backyard so we don’t have to interact with our neighbor. Sure once in a while there is is a “Wilson” conversation over the fence (Reference the TV series: “Home Improvement”) Perhaps these conversations have great depth like Wilson and Tim did on the sitcom, but for the most part we all keep to ourselves.
And if we are honest with ourselves, most of us are probably pretty comfortable with that arrangement.
But community means allowing the fences to come down. When the fence comes down, we have to take time to interact with our neighbors and they with us. We get a front row seat to the trash in their back yard and they into ours. That’s scary! That’s uncomfortable. That’s a picture of the work needed to build community in a church.
Interacting for a few minutes on Sunday morning is a slight risk, but not too risky. Superficial conversations are easier to have than vulnerable ones. So a little interaction on a Sunday morning is sufficient.
But listen to this sampling of passages and see if a “superficial” conversation allows us to do this well:
“Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2)
For the most part, we want to carry our own burdens. There’s even a bit of ego that doesn’t want someone to help (is it just me?). It takes trust to let someone in on a physical, emotional, or spiritual burden. When the fences come down, we can see what others are going through and be available to carry their burden.
Here’s a few more…
“Be kind and compassionate to one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
“…Stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you…” (Ro. 15:7)
To put these encouragements into practice, we have to let the fence down and build the relationship. We may have to step through trash, we may have to be inconvenienced…but you know what? People who want to build community with us will have to become comfortable with our trash because our backyard is full too.
Satan loves to keep us isolated…let’s repent and fight against this temptation.
The Spirit of God loves to help us build community with others so we can enjoy the “one another” and “each other” blessings of God’s church…his community.
Apply: Which of the four statements are most challenging for you to follow? Why? Ask the Lord to give you humbleness, courage, patience and willingness to take a baby step into community with others.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the community of believers you have put around me. Help me to tear down the fences and and build community with others. Thank you for the blessings you promise and give as a result. AMEN.