Yesterday was my church’s Senior Sunday. As I stood at the front of the sanctuary, fighting back tears next to some amazing Jesus-loving goofballs, I started truly reflecting on what the church has meant to me over the past 18 years of my life.
I remember going on hayrides and singing Veggie Tales songs at the top of our lungs with these people when I was 9. I remember building a church on a mission trip with these people when I was 15, I remember singing with one voice to our Savior with these people, I remember losing a dodgeball tournament at camp with these people when I was 12, and I remember sitting in a circle with all my other senior girls last summer and crying for three hours because of how awesome Jesus is and how much He has worked in us as a group over the years.
There have been divisions. There has been drama. There were weeks, months, and even years where we let petty things come between us and neglected to function as the Biblical community that God has called us to be. But when we did live out that community, we were not only fulfilling God’s call, but we realized our lives were being fulfilled.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” — 1 Corinthians 12:27
Being the body of Christ is not a burden, it allows us to live more effectively and abundantly by having all of the other parts of the body working with us. In essence, the rest of 1 Corinthians 12 explains that a hand or a foot or an eye off by itself is not worth much of anything, but when attached to a functioning body, it has a great purpose and value!
I remember my youth minister speaking on a Wednesday night during the spring of my freshman year. I remember him challenging all of us to resolve any enmities or dissensions between ourself and anyone else in the group. I remember making a list of 7 people that I needed to go apologize to or talk with about something that had come between us. The next 2 weeks were some of the most awkward and emotionally draining weeks of my life as I made my way down that list, but they were also some of the most freeing. So many broken relationships were restored, and two of those seven are now some of my very closest friends. For the first time I fully grasped the way church is supposed to be, the community we are supposed to share, and how amazing it feels to experience that without any tension or strife interfering.
Since then, I have made it a point not to allow jealousy, anger, or gossip permeate my relationships that way ever again. Sometimes that means confrontation in love, sometimes that means awkward conversations, but community free of hindrances is so worth it. Community that allows us to reach the full potential that Christ has for us. We can’t do it alone — we need people to pray for us, work alongside us, encourage us… And they need us! Whether that is a formal gathering in a church building, a group of Christians at school, or even you and a friend praying and reading the Bible together — start somewhere with living out your Christian walk not only as an individual, but as a part of community. It’s so worth it.