Life-Giving Encouragement Happens in Community
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
Last week we focused on the power of God’s Word to encourage, equip and energize us to be channels of His compassion. Not only do we need this comfort personally, but also when we become God’s promise keepers as He sends us to come alongside another person in their life journey. As Jesus prepared for the crucifixion He had an incredibly personal conversation with God. In that prayer (see John 17) He asks that those who are His (included us) will be one. Why would this be the request of our Savior shortly before He leaves the earth? My conclusion is that Jesus wants us to experience the priceless gift of community, knowing it is a means of grace that will help us grow deeper in love with Him and walk by faith. God gives us “means of grace,” that is, He doesn’t throw us into life as Christians without also giving us a means of knowing Him and how to reflect His love to others. The Word is our road map and along with the covenant community, God helps us better understand how to live out His Word in our own villages.
After Bible study one day, an older woman asked her group leader to pray for her as she met with her daughter-in-law. The woman’s mission was to confront her daughter- in-law. She explained how offensive the daughter-in-law’s behavior was to her and her husband and that she just had to tell her how wrong she was. The small group leader’s heart pounded as she listened to this godly woman’s hurt and anger rush out of her mouth. The woman wasn’t asking for advice, but the group leader knew that this confrontation would not end well. She suggested to the older woman that she should prayerfully consider her role in this unbelieving daughter-in-law’s life. Would this confrontation lead the other woman to Jesus or would the walls already in place grow higher? Was there an eternal impact to consider? Perhaps her role was to set a relationship table that offered love and acceptance rather than righteous indignation.
The older woman regularly attended Bible study and spent personal time in the Scriptures. She was sure that the Lord was directing her to set straight her daughter-in-law. However, through the covenant community, this local church Bible study and this sister in Christ, her small group leader, the godly woman rethought her position. Perhaps she needed to see beyond the immediate conflict and look at it as a moment that could have eternal implications.
Instead of confronting her, she invited her son’s family out to dinner with no agenda. Her motive was to set the table of relationship in such a way that her daughter-in- law could hear and see the love of Jesus in her mother-in-law. They may never become best friends, but the mother-in-law’s motive changed when she recognized that her role was not as judge, but be a redemptive presence.
God created community for our good. Let’s spend some time reflecting on that precious gift.
Treasured by Him,
Read John 17 for a better understanding of Jesus’ love for the Church
Read Treasures of Encouragement, Chapter 6
When you worship in your local church observe community at work. Is there something you can do to cultivate a community that reflects oneness with Jesus?