A few days ago I posted this picture…
The words on the photo are from Galatians 6:2. Unity and being a community is a huge part of Galatians. The idea of community and growing together as the people of God is very important to me and I would argue important to the heart of God. It seems the Bible is continually talking about how to be a community and calling out the sin that separates a community. So, when we read that we are supposed to carry one another’s burdens we may be caught off guard or confused but in the context of the Bible it is very natural. When I posted the picture I gave a very brief description of how we bear each other’s burdens but let’s look at it in more depth.
1. Be Open and Ask
Often times we are too concerned with our own lives and problems to ask about the lives of someone else. We are caught up in the cultures ideas about individuality. It is important though to connect with people. If you are a manager, ask your workers about their families. If you are a student, ask your friends about their emotional health. These questions don’t seem natural but they are how you grow and form relationships. If you want stronger friendships or employees who respect your leadership get to truly know them and their needs.
It can be hard though when the usual question of how are you is responded to by a head nod in a hallway. It starts with us being examples. When you are asked about life be honest. Did you have any struggles, how are you feeling that day, are you excited about something happening soon. By answering with more depth and honesty it forms a culture around you and the places you are at. It creates a place where people are okay with opening up and talking about life. Don’t believe me try it out for yourself!
2. Be Truthful and Care
No real change can be done unless you actually care about the person. If you ask how someone is then you have to take time to listen to their response. Don’t just ask as you are passing by. If they tell you something that means it is important to them. Take note of it and ask them about it later. If they say they are headed to a family member’s this weekend then on Monday ask them how the trip was. If they say they have a test on Thursday, ask them how it went on Friday. It takes a genuine care and interest in something other than ourselves to form real relationships with others.
When someone asks you be sure you are honest. Like I said above it starts with one person living as an example. Too often we are scared to open up, but that is the necessity. Share your struggles and share your joy with others. It is how we grow and connect.
Be willing to pray for and with each other. Prayer is vital to the Christian life and it is vital to communities. Although, keep in mind, some places and times are not always the most appropriate to pray together. That doesn’t mean forget to pray it just means be respectful of your surroundings and pray later, but actually pray. Don’t say I'll pray for it if you have no intention to do so. Remember me talking about being truthful above? Keep in mind some people in your life may be opposed to praying with you and that is okay too but it doesn’t stop you from praying for them on your own.
We must begin to work towards true community. It requires work and selflessness but it is what we are called to. I urge you to practice caring for others this week, this year, this lifetime. I promise you that your life will be changed when you begin to live beyond yourself and embrace the call towards community.
How will you practice true community this week?
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