A few years ago, I entered a weightlifting competition. I used to be a lot stronger than I am now. I had never competed in weightlifting before this event, but I had spent a lot of time in a weight room because I played football in high school and college. I trained for a few months, trying to get as strong as I could. I felt pretty good about myself heading into the event.
I started talking to some of the other competitors when I got there and learned that most of them had been training for years just for this event. I was a little worried that I was in over my head, but I was going to give it my best shot.
The first event was the bench press, and it didn’t go so well for me. I didn’t do close to what I thought I could. Everyone could see that I was angry and frustrated. A bunch of the other competitors came up to me to encourage me and offer advice. I wasn’t in the mood for any of it, I just wanted to be alone.
As I sat there and sulked, I looked around and saw a bunch of people who were helping each other out and cheering each other on despite the fact that they were competing against each other. I thought to myself, “This is what community should look like.” Then it occurred to me that I was the only one who wasn’t a part of the group. I felt convicted that I had let my own failures get in the way of loving and encouraging people.
I think about that event a lot when I think about community. It was a beautiful picture of how people should treat each other. I ended up winning my weight class championship that day. I don’t think that I would have been able to do that if it wasn’t for that group of strangers rallying around me and cheering me on. There was only one thing that brought us all together, we were all weightlifters.
If a group of mostly strangers can build an encouraging community around the common ground of weightlifting, how much more should Christians be able to create a community around the common ground of Christ? We are told throughout scripture that Christians are to live in community with each other. In fact, we were never meant to do life with Christ on our own. The writer of Hebrews warns us, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”(10:25) We are not meant to live out our faith as lone wolves. We need each other, plain and simple.
Whenever Jesus sent out his disciples to preach to the towns, he sent them out two by two. Paul always took someone with him on his missionary journeys. The disciples are continuously together in the early church. They all knew that life was too hard to face alone and that living out your faith is easier when you have someone by your side.
I know that everything that we hear in the world today is that we need to be independent. The Bible tells us quite the contrary. If you don’t have those people in your life that will encourage, challenge, and love you as you walk with Christ together, then you need to find them. We were never meant to do this on our own. God has created us to be in community with others just as He is in communion with the Son and the Holy Spirit. We need each other. Life is too hard to try to get by on our own. We need to lean into our Christian community. If we do that, then there’s nothing that we can’t overcome together.