For the past few weeks I’ve been settling into a new position. I still work in community health one day per week, and for my other three days of paid employment I now work as a therapy assistant at a public health residential facility. The residents where I work in this position are severely impaired, both physically and intellectually. It’s been a very interesting few weeks, a time in which I’ve rediscovered the uniqueness of every human, each with a personality and differing preferences and behaviours. As is the case in every sphere of social activity, some people are easy to like and work with, whilst others are more challenging.
So the concept of community in my working life now embraces taking community into various homes where people are isolated and alone; and going to a particular community and hopefully showing God’s love and enhancing its life and culture in positive ways.
Community, as Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche residential facilities for the handicapped espoused, is not just a place or a system. It’s something we carry with us.
As Christians, we belong to the community of God’s people throughout this world. We are a spiritual family. This can and should have deep significance. We love those in our own churches, but we should still be able to travel elsewhere and feel a sense of belonging when we meet with Christians that we don’t know. We should be praying for and supporting our brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those who are subject to persecution.
In a time of darkness, we should be praying that the light of Christ will shine throughout this world, through the community of believers. How comforting it is to know that there are faithful prayer warriors who uphold us even when we feel alone and perhaps are alone physically.
Community is always inclusive. It always has room for another. It affirms each person as created in the image of God, of such great worth that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, that whoever would believe in Jesus and commit their life to Him in repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ, would not perish and die, but have everlasting life, abundant life beginning here on Earth and continuing after death in Heaven for eternity with Him. (John 3:16, John 10:10).
We all have the opportunity to create or impact communities for God and many of us connect with a number of different communities – family, friends, interest groups, neighbourhoods, workplaces, churches, and sporting teams are a few examples. Why not pray that God will give you direction and lead you to those that he wants to minister to? May each one see the love and fellowship of Jesus and His community of followers.