Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:5-8 (NIV)
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-12 (NIV)
One of the greatest proofs for God in the world can be found in our families, friends and communities. We find support, accountability and strength in community. Sometimes we as Americans want to follow Jesus with a sort of “me-n-Jesus” loner mentality, but living in God’s kingdom means that we live in the context of community- even when there are disagreements and hardships and in those times when being part of a community isn’t easy. Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” (John 15:5) A vine has many more than just one branch. As Jesus followers we need each other. The Body of Christ necessarily has many parts that need to work together as a whole.
It is important for us to have a one on one relationship with God that we tend in prayer, study, meditation and in cultivating spiritual disciplines, but it is equally important that our relationship with God is also lived out in our community and in the world at large.
We should find joy and strength and support in our fellow Jesus followers. Because of Jesus we have the capacity to love one another and to live in a way that shows the world Who we belong to.
We as God’s people, God’s community, are meant to be a refuge for each other, not because we are such fantastic people, (we aren’t) but because God loves us. He loved us first. This is an important point. On our own we aren’t always all that lovable. We can be downright ugly at times.
Forgiveness is a big hallmark of Christian community. All of us are saints and sinners at the same time. None of us can live up to God’s ideal, but we all have been given the gift of God-with-us as our refuge. We have been given the privilege to experience the presence of God in community. We pray that we would have the eyes to see others the way God sees them. We can pray to see others with eyes of love, and to respond to them accordingly.