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Testament (May)

Check out our newest May issue of Testament as Kathy shares about the importance of presence and community in the body of Christ.

Together
Kathy Jung

There are the everyday and special experiences that join us together – seasonal gatherings and birthdays, acts of service to meet a need, and check-ins, just to see that they are safe.  These are the routines that make up a shared life. And when there is nothing left to do, and the end of life is near, the only thing remaining that still matters, is presence. I  am  here  with  you…

I’ve written most of this month’s Testament, bedside, in the hospital. And what I have come to think is that there is no greater, more basic gift, that I can give, than to simply be here. 

As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. 

1 Corinthians 12:22 (Message)

Every part of the body is connected, and serves the other parts. We are really only just discovering how truly interdependent the parts of the body are designed to be. Most people know that the state of our teeth and gums, directly affects the state of our heart. Recently it is being reported, the health of our gut significantly impacts the health of our mind and emotions.

The most basic, the most needful, is simply to maintain our connection, to be present, to bear witness to the triumphs and heartaches of another, and in so doing, to show them our love.

We have been talking about community in the body of Christ. If you were to have peeked in to the adult Sunday Life Group recently, you would have seen community in action. Each person told a story of how God reached out to them through another. Through the glass, even if you couldn’t hear the words, you would have observed another story playing out. You would have seen people leaning in to listen, thoughtful nods, empathetic sighs, laughter and joking, and smiles and tears. The oneness shared, came from vulnerability, kindness, agreement despite diversity, investment in mutual flourishing, and a shared gratitude for the God who is actively good, gracious and present for us.

Jesus surrounded himself with a community, yes, to teach, and to model himself to. But his community was also there for Him to share in his experiences, thoughts and emotions. And he reached out to them, for prayer and support in His deepest need.

Healthy supportive communities lean in to one another. And like the disciple that Jesus loved (John 13:23), we all benefit when we lean in on Jesus.

One by one the SLG members told of how God used another person to bless, stretch, give an example, embolden, give perspective, meet a need with perfect timing, and prompt us to listen to or speak His words.

These are the lived-lessons, of being community for one another, that were told:

  1. God will move us when we get too comfortable    
  2. God will touch our loved ones through His Spirit and through prayer that we might be encouraged and comforted
  3. God will use His word to reach those we are perplexed about how to reach
  4. God will send us people to model after and gain perspective from
  5. God will give us the resources to grow in His timing and not through a human-initiated timing
  6. God will move others to bless us, and move us to bless others
  7. God will heal our resentments and tendencies to walk away from those we disagree with. We can be an inspiration to others that this possible for them too.
  8. God will show us that what others have labeled as our weaknesses can be used as strengths for His good work
  9. God will prompt others to encourage us to appreciate how He has made us that we might not envy the gifts of any other part of His body
  10. God will stretch us to accept and love all people by the example of those He is making new and putting on display for us to see 

None of these lessons were learned through independent thought, siloed away from others. Instead, like ripples in a pond, with Jesus at the centre, gentle waves move outward from you to me and onward to others.

Community means that what God is doing for me and in me, has exponential impact as it ripples outward. And our gladness is multiplied.

Even the discomfort of being with those different from us, has its great blessing in helping us to be like Jesus, who loves all without reservation or prejudice.

Community takes risk, takes flexibility and growth, takes unlearning habits of running away or pre-emptively pushing others away. Community is the predominant tool of God’s transformative action in our lives.

Come on in.

Let’s do this Together.