Community: It’s Not About Your Preferences

Bradley Conrad February 07, 2020
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Choosing to be in a community with the people around us will, inevitably, mean that we experience moments of joy and moments of hardship. The actions of those closest to us may hurt us, long-distance may cause some friendships to end, or you might be tired of trying to get past small talk and become real friends with someone. Any number of reasons may prevent you from pursuing real, local community. 


First of all, before I continue, if it seems that I am “accusing” you of neglecting your community, know that I am writing to myself just as much as I am writing to you. The truth is, I feel like Paul when he wrote that he knows what it means to have everything and what it means to lack everything. I have walked through times of complete happiness in my relationships and times of complete heartbrokenness. I know what it is to forget what loneliness is, and I know what it is to wish I never had friends in the first place. Unlike Paul, however, I am still learning how to be content in it all, though at least I fully understand the absolute necessity of it. Now, with the proper starting point, when evaluating the need for a strong, Biblical community, I believe there are two important things to consider. 


Genuine Friendships 

First, and most importantly, you need real friends. If you can’t think of one person for whom you can honestly answer the question, “how are you?,” one day, you’ll realize that nobody knows you. Now, there is nothing wrong with having friends who don’t know you well. I have plenty of friends like that. You can’t expect all of your friendships to be close ones, and there is value in not spreading yourself too thin. However, to have no one who truly knows you is a dangerous road to travel, for as soon as you realize that you have nobody, you’ll conclude that you are nobody, that no one would care if you were gone. Your close friends are the people who breathe life and hope back into you, just as Ruth did for Naomi when all of Naomi’s life and hope had left her (Ruth 1).


Selfless Friendships

Second, it doesn’t matter where you are or how difficult it is. Find a local community. Imagine this: Jesus gave up the infinite love of the Father that He had known for endless time for twelve ignorant, selfish humans. In which community do you think He found more satisfaction?


Nevertheless, He knew that we cannot always choose the place we live, but that we must participate and invest in the community there. Please do it. Choose not to neglect the community where you live because they don’t match your preferences. No matter how much it hurts, people are the most important thing you’ll ever have in life. You need them more than you know. Don’t let your preferences rule your engagement.


Pursue Biblical community and Biblical friendships, but know that your contentment and your identity lie in Jesus and Jesus alone. If you are in a season of loneliness and lack a community around you, press into Jesus and your relationship with the Lord. Ultimately, our friendships are finite and may come and go with different seasons. So we should trust in the eternal hope of salvation in Jesus Christ and the personal relationship that He offers you whether or not good friendships surround you. As Christians, a cultivated relationship with the Lord equips us to extend that same love to whatever community the Lord has placed us. 


About the Author

Bradley Conrad

A senior in high school, Bradley has been involved in TeenPact for eight years. Bradley first learned the importance of community in his move… Read More