Many of us have read the book of Genesis and consider the story of Adam and Eve to be a love story. While their relationship does become romantic, it doesn’t begin there. In Genesis 2:18, God says “It is not good for the man to be alone,” not “It is not good for the man to be without a wife.” Yesterday, Pastor Kristen showed us in the Scripture that the first problem in creation wasn’t sin, but loneliness. Before God created Eve, He created all the animals and had Adam name them. Even among all those creatures, Adam still felt alone because none of the animals could keep him company in the way another human could. God noticed, felt his pain and sent him someone to do life with. We believe He does the same for each of us.
Studies show that as a person’s social network gets smaller, his or her risk for mortality increases to almost as much as that of a smoker. That shows us that we need community. The Genesis story tells us about a perfect God and a perfect creation, but something was still missing. Everything can be going right in your life and seem perfect--just like it did in the beginning for Adam--but that doesn’t mean it’s complete. Community completes us. You see, God didn't create us for company, he created us for community. When company comes over, they see only the BEST in us. And then they leave. They don’t see what we shoved in our closets and under our beds to make everything seem perfect. But community stays! They see the good, the bad and the ugly, and they still stick around. They encourage us and help strengthen our faith. Without community, we position ourselves where our faith can die. Hebrews 10:25 commands us to not giving up meeting together, but to continue encouraging one another even more. When you gather in a community, your life begins to elevate. Doing life by yourself is impossible.
Many people remove themselves from communities--especially the Church--because they’ve been hurt. Sometimes the words and actions of others are cruel, inappropriate and cut deep. Other times, correction is necessary because community corrects. Pastor Kristen reminded us that we are responsible for one another as members of a community. In love, we must correct and help sharpen our brothers and sisters in Christ. Don't be shaken. Sometimes it's uncomfortable, but you may just be getting stirred up to be propelled further. Correction is love. So we ask: who are you responsible? Your best friend? Your neighbor?
Stephanie, a servant leader on our Host team, shared a story about when community challenged her:
“When I was younger--around 14--I was pretty rebellious. My family sat me down and asked me what my end goal was and if my behavior was helping or hindering me. I was super defensive. I felt that they were coming from a place of judgment. Hindsight being 20/20, I know their correction was because of love. It’s a true ‘train up your child’ moment. Had that intervention not happened, I would have continued to find new ways down the path of destruction.”
Beyond personal relationships, communities are called to correct patterns of injustice and inequality, not stand on the sidelines. We’re called to right wrongs, not prove wrongs.
In the same way, God corrects us. But after correction, there is always covering. Love covers a multitude of sins. When things go wrong, we tend to isolate ourselves. That’s exactly when we need community most. In pain and grief, there’s still reality. Community covers. God completes us by giving us community, he corrects us when we go the wrong way and he covers us by the blood of his own son, Jesus.
Unless we step into it, we’ll never know the blessings of community. It’s time to commit to a community. If you stick around, you’ll see your faith will grow even stronger. We can declare that Trinity Harlem will be a place that completes, corrects and covers. We commit to covering people. Will you join us?