Our behavior should never be determined by the behavior of others (real, expected, or imagined). Our behavior should be based solely on the amazing love of God in Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus lived, accepted people, forgave people, died on the cross for us all, - not because he would receive anything from us for it, - we, too, should act only from and in the power of the love of Jesus.
If Jesus suddenly appeared before you and asked, "What do you want?" how would you respond? Maybe you'd ask for physical healing for yourself or someone you know and love. Perhaps you'd ask for the restoration of a broken relationship. Or maybe you'd think much bigger and ask for peace in our world or the end of poverty.
"Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." - Acts 2:46-47 We live in a culture that increasingly fragmented. People who live next door to you, people who work with you, people who go to school with you are feeling increasingly isolated. And yet God created us for community. Our hearts yearn to know and be known, love and be loved, serve and be served.
"All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." - Acts 2:44-46 Focusing on Jesus, devoting ourselves to a growing intimacy with the Lord produces in us a focus on the needs of others. That is the critical balance of healthy spiritual community.
True spiritual community is not something we create. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. By grace we are one in Christ. By grace we are family, sisters and brothers beloved by our common Father. This is a gift. It is an objective reality. The challenge is living out this reality and making it a part of our experience.
"It is not good for the man to be alone." - Genesis 2:18a We need one another. Ever notice how many "one another" mandates there are in the New Testament? Love one another, forgive one another, encourage one another. The New Testament was written from the assumption that we would live faith together.
Be still and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10 Sometimes when we encounter the things we most fear (rejection, failure, sickness...), we panic and thrash about and scream. But God calls us to have a little faith. If we will be still, we might just discover that our greatest fears are only waist deep, and that God has become a foundation we can stand upon.