Showing Up in Community

I don’t know about you, but I’m stuck.

I know deep inside that Divine Energy wants to help me live this fully dimensional life. I taste this Essence of life in moments of grace, love, and joy.

I want more of this feeling. I search for spiritual movements and sources of help to guide me. Daily I find new books, writings, and even web sites that promise to help me live a fully dimensional life.

The problem I find is that this holy Presence is unseen. I think I touch the divine, but then am unsure because it was only a hint or a whisper that passes in breeze.

I make a good beginning, but then lose momentum. The energy fades. Was it real? Is it what I yearn for?

I believe we can connect with that divine presence right now.

I found a surprising answer. It wasn’t where I thought it would be.

God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:22-23 CEB)

Mysteriously, mystically the Spirit of God chooses to work in our lives through other people. Paul’s image of the body of Christ paints the community of faith as the visible hands and feet of the invisible God. When the community gathers in the name of God spiritual reality connects with physical reality.

That’s exciting.

That’s frightening.

It’s scary because we all fail. Every group of people resists the will of God. As a leader in a community of faith I fail daily.

This also is the exciting part: Through the turmoil, resistance, and struggles of a scraggly bunch of fragile and broken individuals, God is able to make grace amazingly real and clear.

It would be nice if we could live a growing spiritual life outside the messiness of community, but we can’t. Left alone we slow down, become inactive, and fall asleep spiritually. We need teachers, guides, companions, and caring people in our lives to be the Divine presence that keeps us moving and growing.

In order to be moved by the presence of life we need to place ourselves in the place where this spirit is moving others. That means community.

To connect with God’s Presence we each need to find a community and show up.

Let’s also think about how to motivate each other to show love and to do good works. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25 CEB)

First off, we need holy nudges to start and to keep going. An athlete has a coach and trainer to push them beyond the point where they want to stop when it gets hard. We need caring people in our lives who gently provoke us to grow. We need someone behind and beside us to keep us moving toward more love and goodness. We also need to walk with others to keep them moving in the same direction.

Then we need encouragers and comforters. We will get hurt. We will become discouraged. Our vulnerabilities are exposed. We need people who will cheer us up when we want to give up. We also need to be someone who comes along with a hand up when others fall.

Alone, we follow a path of disconnection. This solitary destination leads us deeper into our fears. A key energy fueling our basic fears is the spiraling experience of alienation and isolation.

 We are not created to be alone. We need life enriching relationships.

The wonderful thing about communities (in spite of all their potential for flaws and failures) is that they provide a place for us to exercise our fully dimensional living. We learn that life isn’t just about what we receive. It is also about what we share.

What a wonderful idea: not only can others be the presence of grace for us, we also become the Presence of life for someone else along the path.

This isn’t something we can buy in a store or download on line. It can only be found as we connect together: When we find a community and show up.

So where can you show up?

A virtual community is helpful but incomplete. Our bodies and spirits need physical connection. Nothing substitutes for face to face community.

Remember, there is no perfect community. Every community we become a part of is filled with people just like us: searching, struggling, laughing, failing, hurting, crying, and hoping. Each community of faith is a place to experience the reality of giving personal grace and receiving forgiveness.

Where can you show up this week? Your life actually does depend on it.


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