No doubt, community is important and vital to our walk with the Lord. However, when it takes precedence over our personal relationship with the Lord, it is out of place. Our first priority is supposed to be to 'Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength.' Our second priority is to 'Love others as ourselves.' I think it is easy to start putting the second priority in front of the first one because it is a tangible relationship. It is easier to engage with a real, live person. You get immediate feedback. You get results. On the contrary, spending time with God can be difficult because often times you don't 'feel' reciprocation in the relationship. It is not always a 'feel good' kind of thing.
I think when the latest way to 'do' Christianity better, such as the latest 'Be in Community' concept hits Christian circles, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon. Suddenly we think we have found the 'answer'. But I think we have to be careful. Pretty soon our walk with the Lord can be all about hanging out with this person, and spending time with that person. It can become all about ministering to this person and ministering to that person. It can become all about hanging out with our neighbors because we need to be building 'community'. It can become all about helping this person and helping that person. And suddenly, without realizing it at all, we've made our walk with the Lord shift to 'doing, doing, doing' rather than just 'being'. Suddenly, we are worn out and burnt out because of all of our 'doing'! Suddenly, unintentionally, we've made ourselves the 'Savior' in other people's lives rather than pointing them to the one and only Savior--JESUS.
Please don't get me wrong. I am NOT trying to bash the whole mindset of living in community or serving our community. Living in community with other believers is SO important and vital to our walk with the Lord. Serving our community and other believers is SO important because God tells us to be the hands and feet of Christ. But it is only a means to an end. It's sole purpose is to point us and others to Christ. Period. Community and Service is not THE WAY. And it should NEVER take the place of our relationship with our Father. Our relationship with our Father should always always always come first. Whom we go to first and foremost with our problems, our anxieties and our fears should always be our Father. Whom we rely on first and foremost in all circumstances should be our Father. AND when we are discipling younger believers, we should be constantly in prayer about making sure we are pointing them to the Lord and not to ourselves. Our relationship with them is not what gives them wings to fly and the ability to live their lives' for Christ. It is not us! Again, God wants to work through us to point them to the one and only Savior--Jesus. We are not ever to point them to us! If they began to put their relationship with their discipler before God in their life then we are not discipling them correctly!
We would be wise to ask ourselves often:
- When I feel lonely and empty am I running first to others rather than to the Lord?
- Am I truly putting the Lord first in my life?
- If I am currently discipling someone, is my goal to point them to Christ? Have they begun to rely on my relationship too much? Have I began enjoying way too much the fact that someone else 'needs' me and comes to me when they are going through difficulty? When someone comes to me for counsel or advice is my main goal to point them to Christ?
- Am I serving others out of the right motives?
Okay, I am off the soapbox now :) .