We’ve all got those “things” we geek out about, right? (I hope I’m not the only one at least). For me, it’s totally jazz…Few things get me more stoked than a super intricate jazz set — even if it’s the kind that’s so intense my bride Lynn calls it just “noise.” One of my favorite jazz albums is John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” It’s a quartet classic! There’s the shimmering cymbals of Elvin Jones, the hypnotic thump of Jimmy Garrison’s bass, and the landscape of colors painted by McCoy Tyner’s piano. Over it all soar the authoritative and plaintive notes of John Coltrane on the tenor sax. It’s beyond beautiful—it’s real, messy, hopeful, and honest. (Yeah, like I said…total jazz geek over here).
Now, imagine the most beautiful song of all time…carefully composed, in need of every single part and each individual’s expertise to pull it off. But then imagine that only one musician was allowed to play the piece, and no one else could even listen in! Sure, the composer and that one musician might enjoy it, in part. But the music wouldn’t even come close to reaching its potential. It was intended to be played and enjoyed by others.
I’m a musician, and trust me, every musician knows that music is about community. When I’m playing my stand-up bass in a jam session with other musicians, and we’re improvising and laughing at each other musically, it’s a joyful, robust, syncopated experience. You can’t replicate it! That’s because a crucial part of enjoying creation is sharing it! A solo performance never even comes close.
You and I are hard-wired for relationships because we were created by a relational God. He exists eternally as three persons — Father, Son and Spirit — in perfect fellowship. When He created humanity in His likeness, He created people who thrive in community and wither in isolation. We need fellowship like we need food. We can get by without it for a while (some of us not as long as others!), but eventually, we gotta eat! Without fellowship, we begin to suffer in big and small ways—some visible, some not.
Jesus took care of that for us. Think about the Gospel… Because the fall of humanity put us far from God, Jesus came after us, lived among us, and showed us the way back to God. But not only do we need close fellowship with Him, we need each other. So after He reconciled His people to God, Jesus calls us the Church, His hands and feet, His bride. These word pictures—a body and a family—imply total connectedness with Him and each other. It illustrates the unity within our diversity.
Now here’s the rub: we live in an individualistic society. Twenty-first century Western society doesn’t really believe in finding its core identity in a tribe. Our modern thinking says that the individual comes first. And sadly, this tends to rub off in our spiritual practice.
It’s now common for people to try living out their Christian faith apart from authentic community. I get it—it feels safer, easier and more manageable to keep your distance. It’s less messy! It’s now common for people to try living out their Christian faith apart from authentic community. I get it—it feels safer, easier and more manageable to keep your distance. It’s less messy! Click To Tweet Community is by definition more complicated than isolation. And for a season, you might get by. Growth may happen, but ultimately it’s going to be largely self-focused, limited, and lacking fulfillment. Why? Because by disconnecting our faith and spirituality from community, we rob God, His people, and the created order of the fullness and harmony the Creator intended. And we feel empty without it.
John 13:35 says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Are you living in community with people who love you and help you walk the Jesus path? Are you loving them back through authentic fellowship? My gentle nudge for you today is this: Consider how God might be inviting you into a more engaged commitment to your community of faith. Be a contributor to that community. Give and receive. It’s essential not only for your own spiritual growth, but for the growth of others. Let’s make music!My gentle nudge for you today is this: Consider how God might be inviting you into a more engaged commitment to your community of faith. Click To Tweet