Gather | Devotion #4: Community
Carole Combs | Women’s Ministry
People gather together for all sorts of reasons. It may be for a quilting meeting or even a substance abuse meeting. People gather for a Boy Scout meeting, Girl Scout meeting, to scouting out their ancestry. Students meet on the university campuses for group studies, sorority meetings, and fraternity meetings. People meeting at a designated location to worship God is another reason people gather together. This is surely a very short list of examples of people of all ages, male and female, that gather together.
Why did they gather together? They had become a community. A group of people that care about each other and feel they belong together should meet. They share common attitudes, interests, and goals. One of the fundamental human needs is to feel like you belong. People do not want to be lonely. Do not get that confused with being alone. Sometimes in the chaos of my very large family, I would like to have some quiet time alone, not too much though. Being lonely is a very sad feeling. You can be in a room full of people and still have the feeling of loneliness. This is why having a community is very vital for the well-being of a person.
A real community brings a sense of home, family. A good community gives you a sense of belonging and acceptance of who you are. A community gathers together, or if you may, you are not a community if you do not gather together. When a community gathers together, you begin to trust one another. A funny thing happens, complete strangers can become closer to you than your biological family. I have personally experienced this aspect in my church community. I love to travel. When I travel, I love to visit Bible teaching churches. When I walk into a building of a community of followers of Christ, it is as if I already know these people. We are family here and for all eternity! God is our Father, and we are His children. We are a community of Christ followers! We share the same identity. Our identity is in Christ. Have you experienced this? Are you gathering regularly with a group of believers? If not, why?
Think of all the other communities you have joined. It could be work, sports, gym, crafts, moms, books, and music. How much time and energy do you personally put into them? How much of your resources do you use for it? God made each of us with a need to belong, to connect with other humans. It was His desire for us to connect with Him and His family. Crazy; however, we are no different than those recorded in the Bible. Mankind, you and I, have connected and gathered together for anything and everything except God and the things of God. There is so much in this world vying for our attention. We can gather for this meeting and that event, but heavens no, we do not have time to gather with those “churchy” people. The church has failed in so many ways. Our internal purpose as a community of believers is to love, care, build one another up, and encourage (Hebrews 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Ephesians 4: 12,29). I know these actions are not always present. If the internal purpose has been failing, the external purpose is suffering as well.
We as believers are told to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28: 16-20). We are to love and care for those outside of the community of believers. We are called to be an army for the Lord. Great things are done when a force goes out! Do not use the failings of the church, a friend, a family member, or even a stranger, keep you from gathering together with a community of believers. Do not use business, laziness, tiredness, or anything as an excuse. You belong gathered together. Become part of the community of believers that God has meant for your life and your families life. They need you, but you need them!