God created us to live and thrive in community. In the beauty and perfection of creation, even with God for company, God Himself said: “It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). Wow! That’s how deeply we’re created to dwell in community with others. Warts and all.
All the ingredients for life and wholeness are found in two contexts: the natural family of mum, dad, kids, grandparents, etc. and a faith community consisting of spiritual brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.
Sadly, in our broken world, God often has to use spiritual community to resurrect what the natural family has put to death. This represents both the sober challenge and enormous opportunity that we have in being part of an authentic, life-giving community: a primary group of relationships that are alive, in love and on mission together. The Irish have a priceless proverb: “It is in the shelter of each other that people live”.We are not just called to believe, but to belong. And it’s only in belonging to a spiritual family that we can practice what we believe and become what God intends. Solitary confinement remains a very effective means of punishment today. “No man is an island of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” (John Donne).
Within the raw and robust reality of community, we serve where others are weak and allow others to serve us in our shortcomings. As a Swedish Proverb reminds us, “When a blind man carries a lame man both go forward.” Our communities may never be perfect, but in an environment of honesty and humility, God perfects that which concerns us.
For it remains the Father’s great delight to place “the solitary in families [and bring] out those who are bound into prosperity” (Psalm 68:6).