Community by Kari Jackson

Community by Kari Jackson

Community: it’s an easy word for me to use in conversation, but a difficult concept for me to live out. In scripture, true Biblical community can feel almost idealistic, especially in light of our current cultural realities and the busyness of our lives. But the real reason I wrestle with this topic so much is, I don’t believe I have the type of community scripture clearly reveals we were created to know. So how do you write or share about something you don’t even have? I love a good cup of coffee, possibly a little too much. And if you could sit here with me today, I’d pour you a cup, welcome you into my messy home, and eventually share with you how despite outward appearance, I wrestle with loneliness. How I long to be known, and to know others, in true life-giving community. But I’d also share with you that I have become discouraged over time in my attempt to find it, because it seems unattainable in light of the busyness of our lives and the thousand things listed on my to-do list. Busyness and distractions can be such powerful tools used against us and our purposes.

Let me introduce you to our “behind the scenes”: I have five children, ranging in ages fifteen to four. Our family was built by a journey through foster care and adoption. And although a gift in many ways, the trauma my children experienced at such vulnerable stages in life has left them with additional wounds and needs. My husband is a business owner, which limits his flexibility and requires him to be away from the home often. And as our children have gotten older, our evening schedule has been overtaken by sporting events, practices, and appointments. Community was never something I meant to neglect. But, overtime, I do believe it was something I let slip away in order to tend to the more immediate demands of our family. As a mom, I justified this drifting away, and I called it “selfless service.” I convinced myself that these are sacrifices all mom’s have to make for the sake of our children and our families. And I neglected my own need for community, because I thought adding one more thing into my schedule couldn’t possibly be for our good.

But, friend. This isn’t true. We were created in the image of God and designed to exist within relationship with others. Just as He Himself exists within relationship. There will be an aspect of hard, and messy, both in creating community and choosing to live intentionally within community. Life is busy. And at times, it may require we lay our schedules out before the Lord and ask Him to “teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12). But there is also a life of freedom and abundance I don’t believe we can know apart from living within close relationship with one another.

Throughout scripture, followers of Christ are reminded that they belong within a group. We are called to exercise our spiritual gifts within The Body (Ephesians 4:12). Reminded of our mission as The Church (Matthew 28:19). And encouraged to live as brothers and sisters together as A Family (Ephesians 2:18-19). And within this sacred gathering of people, we are also called to be known: our weaknesses, our sins, and our temptations. It’s this messy part of community that is so tempting to neglect. But it’s also in these more difficult parts of community where we find refinement and redemption. The Gospel stands as proof: Messy places can be redeeming moments, but only if they are brought to light.

  •  Confession to Healing
  • James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Healing ultimately comes from Jesus. But many of the wounds we carry are from people. Within biblical community, however, we see a beautiful exchange. We see a confession of sins, in exchange for intercession and healing. We see wounds being exposed and begin to heal as people are met with grace, forgiveness, and a bearing of each other's burdens. We see the Great Physician using His people to bring healing, and it begins with being bold enough to be known within community.

  • Weakness to Encouragement
  • Hebrews 3:13 instructs us to: “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” There is a covering of protection offered as we are known within community. Living a life of isolation will never allow you to know the encouragement and exhortation that is commanded to be spoken over your life. These things are only done within relationship with others. And as we make a practice of encouraging one another, and receiving encouragement from others, we offer so much more than kind words: we offer the gift of protection. Protection against the deceitfulness of sin. Protection over the hardening effects of hidden sin. And protection over our purpose, which will always seek to bring God glory. Sharing our weaknesses and sins is uncomfortable. And it will be a difficult component to living within biblical community. But as we do, we will see the protection God brings us through His people and through their encouragement. 

    I want to leave you today with this quote from Ray Ortlund. He says, “You can be impressive, or you can be known.” Being known can be scary, especially if you have taken that risk in the past and were met with only judgment. John 3:17 reminds us though that Jesus did not come to condemn the world, but to save us from our sins. If you have only experienced condemnation for your sins, I am truly so sorry. Biblical community, even done “right,” will still know hard and messy places. But those places are never meant to shame you or condemn you. They are designed to give you an opportunity to be known, to be encouraged, and to find healing. I have neglected these things for far too long. And if you find yourself in a similar place as well, I hope we can take these steps together. It may be difficult to find the time. It will be hard to share our stories. But I do believe it will be worth the pursuit. And I can’t wait for us to journey together toward this new life of being known, and being healed, within community. 

    - Kari
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    1 comment

    Thank you Keri so much for sharing your story. I really needed to hear this. I’m struggling with finding balance outside of my daily family schedule to be a part of the community. So thank you so much for this.

    Darnae Jones

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