It is possible to be part of a community but not truly be IN community. In other words, being considered part of a group doesn’t necessarily result in meaningful relationships. Any group can be full of surface relationships that amount to no more than mere acquaintances, more closely resembling strangers passing on the street than friendship.
Friendships, like what Jesus encouraged and demonstrated, were intimate and open. They were based on trusting God to move. They were not forced out of obligation. They were initiated and grown in love for each other. They were not based on policing each other’s behaviors. They were not focused on fixing each other. They were full of grace. They were not orchestrated as part of some program. They were freely initiated and pursued out of a desire to know and support each other. They were not confined to a specific denomination or some other specified group of people. They were open to anyone, regardless of any label society wanted to put on them. They “happened” as Jesus traveled and spoke with his disciples and others over a three year period.
Authentic relationships, like the ones God desires for us to thrive in, are cultivated over time as God brings us together with the right people. These relationships grow as we risk opening ourselves up to each other in hopes of getting the opportunity to share love in true community. We mustn’t think and act the same, or even have all of the same theological beliefs, in order to experience and thrive in relationships with each other. Love is the key. God can sort out all the rest…and He does.
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