As a 21st Century Christian living in a country that prioritises religious freedom, it’s a common understanding that community is paramount to growth; being part of a like-minded group provides emotional and spiritual support and helps us work toward personal and corporate goals. This is a wonderful thing to see in action and its Biblical basis is evident in many passages of scripture.
Lately, I have been pondering those who have come into a faith relationship with Jesus who do not have access to the kinds of community we foster in Western society.
Those who live in regions of the world that openly persecute Christians, where speaking the name of Jesus can land you in prison, or worse, the grave.
Those who do not have access to Christian communities – those saved who have found God in unlikely situations, been radically saved, and yet must live in communities that shun the Christian God.
Those who live in homes where other faiths are practiced and revealing faith in Christ means ex-communication and rejection from the people they love the most.
Those in relationships where sharing faith equals intimidation, ridicule, loss of personal freedoms, beatings.
And I wonder how they foster their relationship with God? For those who have no access to a Bible, those who have to hide evidence of their faith, who cannot openly share with others because there are no others to share with – I wonder how God, in his infinite capacity, strengthens these precious sons and daughters.
My personal conviction is that, yes, being in a community with other Christians is ideal and developing relationships with like-minded people is strengthening and wise but there must be a special dispensation of grace and protection over those who I have mentioned.
A dispensation of knowledge, supernatural access to God’s instruction for their lives, and deep and profound experiences of his presence that keep them growing in the grace of God.
I feel deeply blessed and privileged to be a Caucasian woman living in a free and considerate society who can speak my mind and share my heart about my faith openly and without fear.
I do not take this lightly, as I ponder the millions of others who do not have the same freedoms and marvel at how God must guard them and keep them from so many things, strengthening their faith despite all the obstacles.
If we, who have such freedoms and access to our faith, feel it is too hard, not worth our time, too consuming, too overwhelming, then perhaps some time spent in quiet and purposeful communion with God is in order.
Time spent in silence.
Time practicing the selah.
Time sacrificed in humble honour of God’s presence.
Time in thanksgiving for the freedoms we have.
I believe that the combination of personal and private worship and relationship building with God and time spent in communion with others provides an unshakable foundation.
However, for those who are not able to connect with the latter (for whatever reasons), I believe that God himself becomes the person’s community; becomes the voice of the unified believers, and becomes all that person needs for that time in their lives.
I am yet to know if my reflections are right or wrong – to be honest, I am not worried if I am either; my intention is to just ponder these things, take the time to reflect on what I have been given access to in my relationship with God and be intentional with how I steward those gifts.
Regardless of what kind of community we are in and what kinds of freedoms we have access to, God calls all of us into right relationship with him and, as he says, provides everything we need to see that come to pass.
In loving kindness,