By: Julianna Weiss
You were made to need. Why does this hit a vulnerable spot in my heart and perhaps yours too? I find myself defending against such a question with: “No, it’s okay, I can do it on my own.” We have been created to share our burdens and yet we also have a resistance to drawing near to others, especially when we are in need. The beauty of needing others is woven into the very fabric of our DNA as image-bearers of a triune God. Reflecting this piece of God while still experiencing a broken world creates a tension in our experience of relationships.
“And God said, let us make man in our image, after our own likeness.” Genesis 1:26
This plural vocabulary God uses of ‘us’ and ‘our’ clues us in to the shared community the Father, Son and Spirit enjoy. This delight of eternal community is central to who God is and provides us with deeper understanding of our design that mirrors his.
We are social beings, created for relationship, yet the very ingredient for community: people, can be the exact source of hurt, distance, and frustration. In the Garden, before a trace of sin, before brokenness and the risk of hurt existed, there was, in the midst of perfection, the need for community. Our all-knowing, perfect God saw that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18). So he created companionship, support, diversity of experience, and nearness of another. This gift signified so much more than just that of a woman being given to a man; it was the beginning of community. Now with man and woman in existence together there was boundless room for depth and joy in knowing one another, however with the entrance of sin, along with it came the potential for deep hurt that many of us experience in relationships. This effect of the fall stained the purity and richness of community, leaving a gap between our intended design and our broken experience of people.
As is consistent with the goodness of God’s character, what man intends for evil, God uses for good. People hurting people and sin affecting relationships is inevitable but not irredeemable. In Philippians 2 we see the pain of our human experience addressed, felt and healed with the life of Jesus. Although Jesus was the very fabric of God, He took on flesh and encountered our brokenness, in His perfect life, overcoming the greatest pain of sin: death. Now through faith in Him, we have access to restored relationship with God the Father. This is the Gospel lived out in the most precious, personal type of community we know: friendship with Jesus for the restoration of our souls.
How does this change who we are as friends, spouses, neighbors, parents, or coworkers? As we begin to see the way Jesus did community we see a vivid picture of someone choosing to draw near to people’s brokenness, share meals, weep alongside friends, and impart truth to those he encountered. Simply put, God saw the need of humanity and sent us a tangible model of what communing with others should look like in order to bring about healing for our souls. Community is so much more than a shared space of people coexisting, it is engaging their story, walking alongside the experience of another, and edifying the soul.
“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.” -Tim Keller
To invest in the life of others is fortifying work for our faith and that of another. Consistent community is a means of accountability that keeps us close to the Word of God to fuel our encouragement to one another. It both strengthens our foundation and reinforces that of our friends. “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together… but let us encourage one another,” Hebrews 10:24-25. The tossing waves of life can make the most traversed believer grow weary in their walk with the Lord, but God’s provision of faithful community is a life raft to cling to as the Lord leads us through the waters. Just as Jesus shared his life with us on earth for the saving of our souls, likewise the gift of community with believers is a means for preserving our faith and that of another until the end. May we continue to run well the race set before us with vision for how God may be calling us to step into His redemption work through walking deeply with Jesus alongside one another.
Julianna Weiss is a lover of people, feeling most alive when sharing life, meals, and hearts. While in college, Campus Outreach played a big part in her walk with Christ and she continues to be involved in her new hometown of Lakeland, FL. Immediately following graduation, Julianna moved from North Carolina to help start Campus Outreach at several local college campuses. When not doing ministry with students, Julianna works three nights a week caring for precious, new human lives as a labor and delivery nurse.