How Did I Get Here?
Before I gave my life back to Jesus and decided to live fully for Him, I had no idea what a true “support system” was. I lived for myself and did what felt good at the time, and naturally, surrounded myself with people who shared the same perspective and did the same things. When I would come home after a hard day at work, I had friends who would “encourage” me by saying things like: “Screw them! You should do what makes you happy. Just quit that stupid job,” followed by a tapestry of obscenities about my boss. Sometimes they would extend an invitation to the local bar and offer to buy me shots, only to bring up their ‘sacrificial gesture’ later when they were intoxicated. Because they “supported” me with things that brought only temporary relief, I would end up feeling even more angry and hurt inside. I surrounded myself with chronic complainers, cynics, and people who seemed to enjoy bringing up the topic of “how messed up the world was” into every conversation. My outside was matching what I was feeling on the inside. Worst of all was that these same individuals would tease, comment on, and make fun of each and every person we encountered at the grocery store, saw on TV, and even strangers walking on the street; our conversations were void of real love and authenticity. We acted and reacted from our insecurities and fears.
These were not good friends. They were not living their lives for Jesus. The hard part was, I conducted myself in the same way, participating in all of these things too.
Luke 6:21 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” I know that, but the crazy thing was, at the time I did believe that this is how I wanted others to treat and interact with me. I didn’t understand my value, the value of others, or the way that people deserve to be treated. How is it possible that those who I regarded to be my closest friends had no idea what my real fears, struggles, and temptations were? Why didn’t they know my passions, desires, and dreams? Why did I sit in my room alone some nights feeling hatred towards myself and weeping while I drank myself to sleep? Should anyone ever have to go through that?
Galatians 6:2 says that we are to “help carry each other’s burdens,” but the voice of the enemy screams, “No, you are a burden. No one cares about what you’re struggling with. They’ll reject you if you tell them who you really are.” And so we hold onto our burdens, isolate ourselves, and live terrified of trusting people with our “stuff.” After all, the enemy has already convinced me that I will get hurt or be rejected if I let people in.
The Importance of Community
Check out this powerful statement that suggests and encourages engaging in something that, in this day and age, has to be fought hard for: genuine, edifying community.
“Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to neglect meeting together as believers, as some have formed the habit of doing. In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage each other as we anticipate that day dawning.” Hebrews 10: 24-25 TPT
Isolation and all of the sadness I described above happens we ‘neglect our meeting together’… as believers. This is the key! We all, every single one of us, long to be known.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us” (Timothy Keller).
We were made for ‘face-to-face-ness.’ When we neglect our ‘face-to-face-ness’ with other Christ-followers, we deprive ourselves of the authentic connection that we crave. Counterfeit community is a temptation because it takes less work, there’s more “sameness” (even if it’s toxic and destructive), and doesn’t require us to get as ‘messy’ with the reality of people’s stories.
Here is the dictionary’s definition of support:
verb [ trans. ]
1. to bear all or part of the weight of; to hold up
At Passionate Like Church, you are not a burden. People can benefit from knowing you. There is a family available to you “to bear all or part of the weight of” what you’re facing, and to help “hold you up.” Your life matters. Your passions, desires, and dreams matter. We want to be a family and community of believers who help share the weight of the things that feel heavy in your life and to ‘hold you up’ when you feel weak and scared.
The enemy tries to use fear, overcommitment, and busyness to keep us from engaging in meaningful relationships with people who are pursuing Jesus and trying to figure out who they are and how to love those around them better. Being in a community means that we are constantly surrounded by stories of miracles and testimonies of healing that bring hope and encourage us to persevere and believe for the fulfillment of the dreams and desires God has placed on our hearts!
Through our participation in community, we get to know different aspects of the character of God as we engage in authentic, healthy relationships. The church needs the participation of everyone in order to function the way it is intended to!
“Our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” 1 Cor 12:18-22 NLT
Even if you feel that what you have to offer is less compared to others, you and your gifts, talents, and time are extremely important and crucial to the growth of our community and God’s Kingdom! Choosing to serve and involve yourself in life groups and meetings with other believers throughout the week, rather than passively showing up only on Sunday mornings will keep you safe from isolation!
Journal & Challenge:
1. Do you make it a habit to meet with other believers regularly outside of Sunday mornings?
If yes, what are some of the benefits and blessings you experience as a result of that? Who may God be placing on your heart to befriend and help feel more included?
If no, why not? What do you need to do to make this a priority? Make it a goal to exchange phone numbers with one person and attend a lifegroup this month.
Lord, I can’t believe that I get to be part of the bride that you are coming back for!! Help me to better understand my role in making her more beautiful for you. Thank you for surrounding me with such AMAZING people who are committed to living fully devoted relationships with you! I love you Jesus! Isolation will no longer be an option for me! I proclaim this in Jesus name. Amen.