Why We Need Community

“There is a twilight zone in our hearts that we ourselves cannot see. Even when we know quite a lot about ourselves-our gifts and weaknesses, our ambitions and aspirations, our motives and our drives-large parts of ourselves remain in the shadow of consciousness. This is a very good thing. We will always remain partially hidden to ourselves. Other people, especially those who love us, can often see our twilight zones better than we ourselves can. The way we are seen and understood by others is different from the way we see and understand ourselves. We will never fully know the significance of our presence in the lives of our friends. That’s a grace, a grace that calls us not only to humility, but to a deep trust in those who love us. It is the twilight zones of our hearts where true friendships are born” (Henri J.M. Nouwen).

If we are followers of Jesus, we need to be in community. A pastor I know once said that the first person you lie to is yourself, so you need other people who will lovingly tell you the whole truth, not just the parts that you want to hear or that make you feel good about yourself.

The old saying is true. There are no Lone Ranger Christians. Heck, even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. The most dangerous place for a believer to be is in isolation. Whether from shame or pride, the tendency is to withdraw from others when life gets tough, but that’s exactly when we need others the most.

We need others to both encourage us and to hold us accountable. What we don’t need is an echo chamber where people always agree with us and our viewpoints and choices and never is heard a discouraging word. We need to have people who will call us out when we’re being less than honest with ourselves and others. We need to hear the hard, painful truths if we really want to mature and grow and not stagnate.

Besides, in community we better reflect the visible image of God to the world. While you or I may show an aspect of who God is, together, we show more of what God is really like, the way the many cuts and facets show off the beauty of a diamond or the different color panes show off a stained glass window.

We need each other as much as we need God.

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