Having a relationship with Jesus is a journey filled with highs and lows. The joy we have is eternal, but this doesn’t mean that we will never experience tough times. In fact, Jesus tells us explicitly that it will be this way.
I believe that is why the New Testament puts so much emphasis on the church and community with other believers. Often times our spiritual walk is like being on a roller coaster where our faith is up and down with no consistency. Maybe you feel like you just cannot get anywhere spiritually and it’s like you’re swimming against a current that never eases up. I want to pose to you a simple question: Are you involved in consistent healthy community with other believers?
I am not asking if you attend a church service once a week. I’m asking if you are doing life with other followers of Jesus. I truly believe that our relationship with Jesus becomes more consistent when we engage in and maintain healthy community with other believers. God simply designed us this way. He wired us for friendship and community. We weren’t made to do life alone and when we attempt to, we ultimately suffer as a result.
But how do we maintain healthy community? Let’s just be honest, sometimes authentic friendships can be downright messy, especially when we decide we are going to take off our masks and be vulnerable with other people. The enemy loves to stir things up within the body of Christ because if we spend our time fighting each other, we aren’t going to be focused on working together to impact our world. So what can we do to create a culture of healthy relationships? Here are three things I have laid out based on the following Scripture in 2 Corinthians 13:4-7.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Are you a dog or a cat? Think about this and stay with me. Dogs are some of the most loyal creatures on the planet. If you get mad at them or fuss at them, they will still love you. Cats on the other hand are a little different, as it really just depends on what time of the day it is. Even if you are a cat lover, you have to admit that sometimes they love you and sometimes they don’t want anything to do with you.
Part of maintaining healthy friendships is being loyal to others. Honestly, I think that this concept is lacking in our culture today. People are too often all about themselves, whether it’s in friendships, marriages, parenting, or any other area of life. The general consensus says: “I’m here for you, until things get inconvenient.” Something that should stand out for us as brothers and sisters in Christ is an attitude of loyalty. This attitude says: “I have your back and you can count on me.” When we all have this mindset, we will begin to have healthy community.
Give What You Desire From Others
Every person desires authentic friendship, and anybody who denies this is probably lying. God wired all human beings created in His image with an innate desire for relationships. I heard a quote years ago from a prison inmate who said: “I would rather be in a cell with my worst enemy, than to be in a cell by myself.” When we do life alone, we eventually fall apart. We all long for loyal friendship from others who will stick by us through thick and thin. However, the problem is that often we aren’t willing to extend what we desire. We don’t apply the same standards to ourselves that we do to others. I believe that we should approach our relationships by making a commitment to be available to them in the same way we would want them to be to us. If you want love, then show love. If you want loyalty, then show loyalty. If we all had this mindset in our friendships, it would be a game changer.
Most of my life I thought that I knew what unconditional love was until my firstborn son Jaxson came into my life. Up until the first time I held him I had never really grasped this concept or at least what it meant to express it effortlessly. When the nurse handed Jaxson to me and I held him in my arms, it was love at first sight without him having to do a thing. I didn’t say: “Okay Jaxson, I want to love you but first you have to perform something or do something to cause me to love you.” I just loved him immediately! All he did right after being born was cry and urinate on me. But the love I had for him was unconditional just like the love our Heavenly Father has for us and this same love is something we should express toward one another. If we are honest though, our love toward each other is mostly conditional. We love based on how another person returns that love. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should seek to love one another with an attitude that says: “I love you regardless of how or if you love me in return.” This is the love of Christ. It is a love that isn’t looking to be pampered, but has a desire to serve like Jesus. Ironically, when we sacrificially love in this way, we are blessed. When we all love like Christ, we all benefit and relationships become healthy.
I truly do believe that when we seek to engage in healthy community with other followers of Jesus, our own individual walk with Jesus will thrive. This is when we officially get off of the roller coaster and begin to consistently move forward in our spiritual walk. So let’s all do life together so we can impact our world for the Gospel.