Response to the Topic of the Community of Believers (Mar24 CSLI)

A Monthly Reflection

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! 

Psalm 133:1 (NASB)

Community.  Nothing seems more practical a part of life, of living and breathing than your fellow family and friends by your side doing life with you.  Life is about people; death is about people.  Of course, that is why our Father sent His Son here on Earth – to save people. 

A resonating song goes like this:

Oh, oh we need each other  click to review
So, what’s the fighting for?
Oh, oh we need each other
Please don’t close the door
Oh, oh we need each other
Through all the highs and lows
Oh, oh we need each other
‘Cause no one’s meant to be alone

[Verse 2]
Life revolves around the need of having someone
Causing every complicated feeling
Oh, and I don’t want to lose you
So, there is nothing wrong with
Telling me what you need
To keep our love strong


Oh, it’s just a part of being a family
Taking the good with the bad and the ugly
If we could only learn to love

“We need each other” by Sanctus Real

In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s, Life Together book he mentions that, “Let him who is not in community beware of living alone.  Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone, in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray…”  Our lives were meant to be with each other.

This month has our theme most ever come true for me as a part of the full grace of G-d.  My daughter who has quickly become fully dependent on mom and dad needed to have her residence changed from being fully autonomous in her own apartment to a room within our house.  I made a brief mention to my C.S.L.I. family and sure enough a couple brothers stepped in without hesitation.  They did not do it begrudgingly nor just a rush-in/rush-out task where they wanted to get over with it as soon as possible.  Nope.  They stuck around and allowed our family to feel loved, cared for, and they put the unity in community.  From different people groups, we all came together to help one who can’t help herself.   I wish we all had more of this – a perfect blend of give and take – with love driving the effort. 

And this is how it should be…

We are driven by the lusts of our flesh, yet that needs to be flipped, turned, upside-down for loving service towards our L-rd and our brethren.  We need to surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to change our lives – killing our flesh, and renewing our life and our worldview.

I know I struggle with how I see others, how I respect each person, or lack thereof.  Pride drives a stake in my own heart regarding “brotherly love” – one of the four loves as previously mentioned in another C.S.L.I. reflection.  This pride causes me to take up my own residence in a swamp of bitterness, judgements, paranoias, and other behaviors that goes against loving others for the Great Commission.

Dietrich’s statement when talking about taming the tongue hits home.

“…discipline of the tongue… He will be able to cease from constantly scrutinizing the other person, judging him, condemning him, putting him in his particular place where he can gain ascendancy over him and thus doing violence to him as a person. Now he can allow the brother to exist as a completely free person, as G-d made him to be.  His view expands and, to his amazement, for the first time he sees, shining above his brethren, the richness of G-d’s creative glory.  G-d did not make this person as I would have made him.  He did not give him to me as a brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the Creator.  Now the other person, in the freedom with which he was created, becomes the occasion of joy, whereas before he was only a nuisance and an affliction.  G-d does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather in his very freedom from me G-d made this person in His image.  I can never know beforehand how G-d’s image should appear in others…” (pg. 93)

Did you catch a couple key points?  One, our brother (or sister) should be looked upon as a shining example of G-d’s creative glory and pointing us to Him as the Creator.  The second point to me is that we now have a different view and response to others.  They are not just pains to us – they are joys because they are different from us – a different image of G-d.  We get to see another “facet” of G-d through our fellow man – another sort of mystery of how immense our L-rd truly is.  Hmm.  Ponder on that…. Seems similar to C.S. Lewis’ statement about we have never been around a mere mortal.

This is only possible when the Holy Spirit does a miraculous heart change to see others in the light and image of Him.

In fact, there is another struggle waging war against this brotherly love as well.  Jesus warns about the cares of this world and how it so easily entangles us and tries to pull us away from Him.

Oswald Chambers in the 1st of April of My Utmost for His Highest expounds:

We run ahead of Him in a thousand and one activities, becoming so burdened with people and problems that we don’t worship God, and we fail to intercede. If a burden and its resulting pressure come upon us while we are not in an attitude of worship, it will only produce a hardness toward God and despair in our own souls. God continually introduces us to people in whom we have no interest, and unless we are worshiping God the natural tendency is to be heartless toward them. We give them a quick verse of Scripture, like jabbing them with a spear, or leave them with a hurried, uncaring word of counsel before we go. A heartless Christian must be a terrible grief to our Lord.

I am guilty of this.  I am extremely busy in this phase of my life, between two jobs, the C.S.L.I. program, taking care of our daughter in multiple facets, photography, and more – that I can very easily just rush through life without much consideration for others, for intercessory prayer, or prayer in-general.  It is a mad and often times selfish dash to check a box, get a monkey off my back, or cross the day’s finish line.

How much do you suppose we have missed out on other amazing blessings by being self-focused and trying to rush through life for our own aspirations vs allowing the L-rd to shape us through His will.  How many conversations?  How many tears of joy and pain with others?  How much time spent away from our true Source of Life? 

And we can also extend this to Jesus’ call to remember Him via communion.  He wants us to eat the bread and drink the wine together in unity and without guilt for a tough situation or issue with another fellow human.  We have a hard time loving Him when we are hating our brother. 

Thankfully, we have a better means going forward.  I have heard it said in my past that we can turn and run away from G-d and run, run, and run – yet all we need to do to be back with Him is just to turn around.  He is right there. 

That concept needs to hit home.  We need to turn to Him not only daily and through our circumstances – but moment by moment – through our struggles, our thoughts, and our steps.  Similarly, we need to try to find different and engaging modes of having community with others and to deepen this more.  The Issues to Ponder section of our month’s assignments speak just to this:

  1. Take time to quietly reflect on the deeper implications of the questions below as they apply to your life.


  1. Where do I experience authentic community with those who are committed to Jesus and His mission in the world?


  1. What are some of the hindrances that make it difficult for me to experience community? 


  1. What can I do to experience community in a deeper way?


Well, I won’t expound on these at the moment as I have honestly not spent too much time on these, I will say that this is a hearty exercise to consider as so much our life is through these dynamic relationships.  As I was reading some of the material this month, I pictured a hub and spoke diagram where in the center, i.e. the hub is Christ, and we as His followers are the spokes.  When we are in unity with Him, we therefore are within community with others and there is a supernatural, progressive, and beneficial flow of unity between the spokes through Christ – us.  The opposite is also true: if we are not in relationship with Jesus or we are not working through the unity He gives us but perhaps our brother and I are partaking in sin together – this also does not work and shames Christ and His kingdom.

Thus, for true unity – for the hub and spoke to work we must be connected to Christ and we must allow Him to connect us to others via Him.   We are most effective and gain most from this unity, this community.  Heaven, my understanding, is not going to be always 1:1 with G-d.  There will be others just like there is today in our breathing life.  However, then we will even have a greater ability and opportunity to love and serve G-d and each other.  We will live this out in perfect unity.  And since He is the perfector, then the unity will also be complete.

And when Paul speaks about love, he’s not talking about something we say or even feel; he’s talking about something we do. Love requires us to give all things; or in Paul’s words, it “rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:6–7). So, those of us who understand relying on Ps 23, even in our wealth, must help those who rely on its promises but are yet to experience them. They are people all over the world, waiting for us to “bear” their burdens with them. They are the hurting, the voiceless—the people who need us to show real love.

How can you show love to the hurting and voiceless in the world today? God has called us all to action—that is what love means. So how will you act?

John D. Barry

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