Spiritual Growth

The Beauty of Community

Sometimes a certain juncture in life catches us by surprise.  Looking backward, we can see all the tributaries which led us to the point of readiness and willingness for the moment at hand.  This weekend was one of those milestones as I stood sharing with the women from my home church about abiding.  I spoke about what abiding means to me: Making a home in my heart for Jesus and finding my home in His.  We looked at barriers – what keeps us from abiding.  We talked about how we can grow deeper in relationship with Jesus and then we explored the fruit of abiding. 

One of the fruits we experience from abiding is “one another” love. 

As I was preparing these talks over the past three months, I spent time praying and seeking God as to what I should say and what ways His invitation to abide would be best received and lived out by these women.  He brought me to 1 John 4:12 & 4:21

No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us … and this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love His brother also. 

Retreat - Grapevine Patio

Feeling urged in my spirit, I looked up all the “one another” verses {thank God for the online concordance, right?} and then I sorted these verses by category.  God calls us to several specific actions as we live out one another love.  He wants us to serve one another, be devoted to one another, forgive one another, live humbly with one another, greet one another and accept one another {not judging one another}.  We pondered these scriptures together as God moved among us.  We opened our hearts and let the Spirit have His way in us.  We lay down resentment, fear, distrust and old wounds.  We brought them to the cross with tears running down our cheeks.  We shared them with one another, lessening the sting and burden.  We uttered prayers over one another.  Throughout the weekend, we ministered to one another with hugs, smiles, much laughter and the gift of presence. 

God designed us for Himself and He formed us for community.  Fellowship can be so broken at times.  We sustain some of our greatest wounds in the church – the very place we are meant to be able to turn for healing and encouragement.  Hurting, we often decide, I won’t trust, reach out, share, let them know me.  We become guarded attenders of church, rather than open, transparent lovers of Jesus and one another.  The only way out of this brokenness is through.  We have to risk being hurt once again.  We have to stretch out our witheredness and allow Jesus and His body to touch us in our hurting places.  Our responsibility becomes providing safe places for baby steps of intimacy to be taken so that walls can come down and the possibility of real church can occur. 

Retreat - Bridge over Ravine

In a small group discussion, one woman shared: “I’ve built walls.” Oh, sister, you are not alone!  Another, sweet woman burst out with, “It’s ok if you have walls, I’m good at climbing!”  The message: I’ll do what it takes to get close to you because you matter to me.  My heart was filled to overflowing as we boldly expressed love to one another and shared the longing we have to sustain the connections we forged over this weekend.  You couldn’t have brought together a more diverse group of women if you had planned it out, yet we experienced the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  We knew love. 

Anyone can attend church on Sunday.  Some of us come more than once a week, returning on Wednesday or attending Bible Study or small group.  If we keep our real selves locked safely away in a closet, we won’t ever receive or be vulnerable enough to truly give what Jesus has planned for us as His beloved church.  He intends for our needs to be met in one another and for the love we share to reflect the love He shares with the Father and the Spirit – and us.  Abiding love.  It’s ours for the grasping and delighting.  It remains the invitation for every person on earth when they enter into relationship with Jesus.  We are His gift to one another.

Retreat - My Spot

During the middle of the day on Saturday, we split up and went our various ways for quiet time to walk through a devotion about abiding on our own with God.  I decided to walk up the back road behind the ranch, far past the blueberry pickers on the neighboring farm to a little field with an old barn, some big trees and the rolling hills all around me.  I set out my blanket and plopped open my Bible.  I sat comfortably with Jesus – praying over the women and pondering the questions and scriptures on my own with Him.  As I prepared to return to the women, I felt like Peter after being invited onto the mount of transfiguration with Jesus, “Lord, this place is good.  Let’s build some tents for just you and me and stay here!”  Of course, we always must leave our quiet spaces with Him to re-enter life with others.  As I walked back down the dirt road to the ranch where we were staying, I felt His nudge, saying, “Be devoted to one another in love.  Are you devoted to these women?  I planted you in this particular part of the body, at this church.  Are you devoted to these women?”  I felt like Peter again, when the Lord asked Him, “Do you love me, Peter?  Then feed my sheep.” 

We are all called to feed His sheep.  Some are called to hospitality.  Others to encourage, teach or serve.  Some are called to organize, others to minister behind the scenes.   Whatever our gifting, He calls us to feed one another and live devoted to one another.  Many of my dearest friends attend other churches.  I would never give up those friendships, but I hear God calling me to intentionally pray for these women – my tribe at my church; to make time in my schedule for them; to spend time with them; to get to know them and to let them know me.  To live a life devoted to the women God has placed in your immediate circle means clearing some space for them to be a part of what you do in life and making a point of being present to them. 

Retreat - Thistles

The gift of community blesses us in ways we can’t express because sisterhood was designed by God.  As we love one another, we show off the good news of Jesus’ love in ways which touch more deeply than any talk or outreach ever can. 

Jesus gave us one another.  Open the gift in you and share it with those around you.  Use the gifts you have to bless and nurture His body. 

As we do it to one another, we do it to Him.  

Words can’t express the joy I experienced growing in love with the women at my church this weekend.  I’m in awe of how God brought me to a place where I have a message to share as well as the life in Him and with Him to carry that message effectively.  Amazing grace – how sweet the sound – He saved a wretch like me.  I pray you find the fellowship of His body and pour in with all you have been given – allowing Him to pour into you through them as well.
I love hearing from you.  Comment below or on the Hearts Homeward Facebook page.
{If you want a copy of the devotion on abiding, just scroll up on the sidebar to subscribe to posts from Hearts Homeward and I will send the devotion to you as a thank you for subscribing}.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply