A FOCUS FOR 2022
As 2021 was coming to a close, I was asking the Lord to show me what I should focus on as we entered 2022. I kept hearing the whisper, "Build Community—Build Community." In a time when conflict is running rampant and people are feeling disconnected, I realized that community is what I was craving. In person, face to face relational community. And I'm sure there are others out there who feel the same.
So what is community anyway? David Chavis says,"Community is both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet common needs. Members of a community have a sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other. They have an individual and collective sense that they can, as part of that community, influence their environments and each other."
As Christian, I must go to the Word to see where the idea of community started and how it applies to me today. God Himself is the epitome of community. Father, Son, Spirit—three in One. Our God is relational, and unity is central to His nature. Community happens when relationships are interconnected, as in Father & Son, Son & Spirit, Spirit & Father. Since we are created in God's image, being relational is an essential part of who we were designed to be.
Building a community starts with building strong relationships:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself." Luke 10:27
"Love God—Love Others" was what I had always seen when I read that verse. Until just a few years ago, I totally missed that I was supposed to build a healthy relationship with myself, as well!
Love your neighbor as yourself!
Though the great commandment, Jesus told us that we are called to grow three essential healthy relationships:
- A healthy relationship between God and me
- A healthy relationship between me and myself
- Healthy relationships between me and others
All healthy relationships start by getting to know each other. Time is invested in honest and authentic communication—both listening and speaking. As confidences and promises are kept, trust is built.
GOD & ME
God created us with a craving for community and it starts by responding to Him and growing in relationship with Him."All healthy relationships start by getting to know each other. Time is invested in honest and authentic communication—both listening and speaking. As confidences and promises are kept, trust is built." This is most certainly true when it comes to building a relationship with the Lord. Taking time to talk to Him about what's going on in your life, then taking time to wait and listen for His reply. Continually praising Him for Who He is and what He has done. Expressing gratefulness. Learning about our Father—His love and grace toward us. Learning about the Son—How He modeled the love of the Father for us and sacrificed on our behalf. Learning about the Holy Spirit who continually indwells believers—comforting, guiding, filling us up to overflowing.
ME & MYSELF
Wow. This one was an eye-opener for me! I never thought about actually "building a healthy relationship with myself!" I stated above that:
- "All healthy relationships start by getting to know each other." In this case I need to take time to know myself, which starts by understanding my identity in Christ. I can also learn how God has uniquely wired me.
- "Time is invested in honest and authentic communication—both listening and speaking." I need to slow down and "think about what I'm thinking about" because communication with myself happens through my thoughts. I need to determine which thoughts are in alignment with God's Word and reject all others.
- "As confidences and promises are kept, trust is built." I can learn to trust myself as I remain honest, authentic, and consistent in aligning my thoughts with God's thoughts.
ME & OTHERS
"All healthy relationships start by getting to know each other. Time is invested in honest and authentic communication—both listening and speaking. As confidences and promises are kept, trust is built."
In the beginning it was written that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Man was walking in the garden with God and without sin and yet such a relationship was not ideal. It was not in accordance with the purpose of the Creator for us. We read in the Gospels that among Jesus’ final words before the cross was a prayer for the unity of His people, a unity expressing the unity found within the godhead (John 17:21-22).
The "one another" passages are a good reminder of what we are called to do to build healthy relationships that lead to community. Here are a few:
- Love one another (John 13:34, 15:12) - Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16) - Comfort and agree with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11)
- Serve one another (John 13:1-20; Galatians 5:13) - Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) - Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32) - Be honest with one another (Colossians 3:9) - Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) - Pray for one another (James 5:16)
Biblical community was the natural result of the Spirit’s influence upon the Church (Acts 2:42-47). I long to see biblical community —right here—right now!
Since I am called to build community in 2022, I will be wise to start by making sure all three of my essential relationships are being intentionally developed.
So as I start out 2022 I will:
- Continue to deepen my relationship with the Lord.
- Rehearse my identity in Christ in order to cultivate a healthy relationship with myself.
- Be mindful of strengthening my current relationships and be open to building new ones.
- Watch for opportunities to create environments that will help to build community.