This week I’m excited to introduce you to my in-real-life friend and fellow author Christina Fox. Her book Closer Than a Sister released earlier this month. In this post, she shares how we’re made for community and the best place to find those friendships.
Have you ever noticed how many of the most loved and popular television shows center around a group of people? Whether it’s a show about a family, a group of friends, office co-workers, or neighbors, these shows focus on the relationships of a group of people.
It might be a small town drama where everyone knows each other’s business. But they also pitch in to help each other when something goes wrong. Some television series focus on a group of friends and the conflicts they weather together. There’s a television comedy about a local pub “where everybody knows your name.” Even crime dramas show co-workers celebrating holidays together.
What these shows reveal is that deep inside we have an innate hunger and longing to be known by others. Deep inside, we know we were made for community.
The Triune Community
In the beginning, when the world was created, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Do you notice the word “us” there? The Triune God was there at the beginning. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all involved in the act of creation. It was a community event.
Our three-in-one God is a community in himself where each member of the God-head loves, serves, and honors each other.
In creating mankind, God desired for humanity to be a part of that perfect community, to participate in and enjoy the love and fellowship our triune God shares.
That same verse in Genesis 1 tells us we are created in God’s image. To image something is to mirror or reflect the original. One of the ways we reflect our Maker God is by being in community with other image bearers. Because God is a community, when we live with one another in community, loving, serving, and honoring one another, we reflect our Maker.
As the old poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” God did not create us to live in isolation, as individual islands bobbing on the sea of life. Rather, we were made to be a part of the main, to be united to others in community.
These days, much of our community is virtual. We live life through an intermediary device. People from all over the world can see through a screen what we’ve been up to. We post images of the events of our day and our vacations to exotic places. We retell funny stories of things our children did or said. We share thoughts and opinions about culture and the world around us. We even post hilarious memes and images with inspirational sayings. And people “like” “reshare” “pin” or “respond” to what we’ve posted.
All of this feels like community. We know what’s happening in each other’s lives. We laugh from across the miles at a video someone posts. People like, share, and retweet things we’ve posted. As our notifications increase, so does our sense of connectedness and belonging.
It feels like we are a part of something. Until the hard stuff of life happens and that’s where the rubber meets the road.
Because while virtual community is fun and enjoyable, who among those friends and connections would come and bring you a meal if you were sick? Which of them would drop whatever they are doing and lend a helping hand? Which of them knows the real you, the you underneath the well-liked vacation photos, funny updates about the kids, and the happy face emojis? Which of them knows your heart struggles, your brokenness, and past pain? Which of them would sit with you in your grief after a loss? Which of them if they saw you straying down the wrong path would do whatever it takes to steer you back? Which of them would encourage you with real gospel-centered hope when you needed it most?
There is a real life flesh and blood community created by our Savior himself. This community is based not on clicks and shares but on a common blood—the blood of Christ. It is a woven community of strands of people from all over the world, so tightly knit that nothing can unwind it. It is eternal and will last forever. What is that community? The church.
The Church Community
Jesus came to redeem community and bring us back into fellowship with God and each other. He created the church, the body of redeemed saints, saved by his blood shed on the cross for their sins. This new community is a family, filled with adopted brothers and sisters who share the same Father in heaven. We are united to Christ in his perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection and united to one another in the faith. And our union is forever.
The church community reflects that union.
We rejoice with one another’s blessings. We mourn and weep with one another over our losses. We help each other when we have needs. We encourage and build one another up. When someone stumbles, we help them to stand. When a brother or sister is weak, we encourage them with truth. We walk together in the journey of faith, in the ups and downs of life, until we make it to our eternal home.
This church community is the community we were made to be a part of. It’s the one where we can be known for who we truly are. It’s a real life community and the one our Savior died to create.
About Christina Fox
Christina received her undergraduate degree from Covenant College and her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Revive Our Hearts, Desiring God, and Ligonier Ministries. She is the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament and Closer Than a Sister: How Union with Christ Helps Friendships to Flourish. Christina prefers her coffee black and from a French press, enjoys antiquing, hiking, traveling, and reading. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two boys. You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and on Facebook.
About Closer Than a Sister
The bond of Christian friendship is different. Built on our unity with Christ, these are real life, flesh and blood relationships – both sacred and sacrificial. Christina Fox offers insight into how we can weave friendships that last through any season and reflect Christ to the world.