Reminders in the Driveway
It was a perfect Sunday night as I lounged in the red lawn chair in my friend Alyssa’s driveway. My husband made weird jokes and our friends discussed everything from parenting to marriage to embarrassing stories as we all watched the kids run around and splash in the kiddie pool. In the midst of seminary survival stories and prayer over some future decisions Ryan and I are trying to make, one of our friends made this remark that stuck with me:
“You have a bigger support system than you realize.”
The Lone-Ranger Christian
The conversation continued forward, but I found myself meditating on this reminder. There are definitely times when I felt pretty alone in my attempts to live real life as a follower of Jesus. I’m naturally introverted and struggle to express my inner thoughts and struggles to other people. I felt like others would judge me for wrestling with anxiety or be annoyed if I talked about what I deal with in having a chronic illness. I also prided myself in being self-sufficient and able to handle things myself, so I often found myself going it alone in my day-to-day life.
But more often than not, it’s been lonely and hard to live life on your own, let alone live the holy, dedicated lives Jesus calls us to as His disciples. With no accountability, I found it easy to drift when I wasn’t in community with other believers. Wrong thinking easily clouded my mind because I wasn’t meditating on God’s truth regularly. My Lone Ranger mentality in my walk with God showed itself as a failure, and my heart yearned to find others who could help me as I limped along in my faith.
My Community, My Family
These struggles make me even more thankful for the community I’ve now surrounded myself with now. We have a small but tight-knit church and several kind and supportive friends who support Ryan and me through the good times and the bad times. I could not follow God without their prayers, their encouragement, and their generosity. They demonstrate to Ryan and me the true meaning of the family of God.
After all, all those who are believers in Jesus have been adopted by the Father. Romans 8:14-16 is one of several passages that teaches this truth when it says,
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
We believers are all considered the children of God, loved by Him, and chosen by Him since the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:5) According to Scripture, every true Christian in my life, even the ones that I don’t always see eye to eye with are my brothers and sisters.
I happen to have two younger sisters, and I love them so much and would do just about anything for them. Growing up together, we definitely did not always get along and would often drive each other nuts, but my mom always encouraged us to “have each other’s backs no matter what.” I thought that my biological family would be the only ones who I would be committed to in this way or who would love me as fiercely, but God has shown me so many examples otherwise. I have had friends who have dropped everything to be with me at the doctor’s office when I needed support, cut our lawn because Ryan and I were so overwhelmed by seminary classes, and brought us food after my ER stay or after the loss of my grandmother. These wonderful Christians and so many others have demonstrated the love Jesus commands us to have for one another in John 13:34 when He says to love others “as I have loved you.” This is why it is so important to make time to go to church services and invite one another into each other’s homes. We need to love and be loved by one another, we need the encouragement and sometimes a kick in the pants from our fellow Christian brothers and sisters as we all pursue God and seek after His holiness. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Christian Community in Action
This past weekend was a perfect, overwhelmingly beautiful reminder of these truths. I remember my heart being overwhelmed with gratitude as the ten of us gathered in the tiny Sunday school room and discussed God’s creation of the world and how we interact with the godless beliefs of the origin of the world apart from God. Our teacher Van taught us about what Scripture said, while my fellow classmates discussed how they talk about these truths with their children. I remember talking after the morning service to a friend’s mom who I never met before Sunday asking to pray for me because she said the Lord led her to do so. And then of course, finishing up my Sunday night gathered with our friends from our years in seminary, getting their advice and encouraging one another while trying not to get completely eaten alive by mosquitoes.
It’s hard to remember sometimes that we are family when there are so many things that divide us. But even though we may disagree on politics, on vaccination, when to baptize, whether or not Jesus was a Calvinist or Arminian, or even what NFL team to root for, we are called to unity and to love as the body of Christ, dedicated to the community of believers in our area and all over the world. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) This is how others will know that we are Jesus disciples: if we love one another. (John 13:35)