Building Community for Trials
There’s a lot of material that’s been written, preached and taught on fellowship with God. As a group, we seem to understand that; few will deny spending time in Worship, Prayer, Bible Study and such other disciplines is important. However the focus here is understanding what it means to fellowship with one another.
Biblical fellowship is not restricted only to “gisting” and spending time together. Those are aspects of fellowship, but aren’t all there is to fellowship. The point of this piece is to better understand God’s desire for fellowship as an instrument to help us through trials.
Trials are difficult times. They’re tough. They’re emotionally intense. No one likes them – but the truth is we grow through them. We are refined despite how intense they might feel. They’re also inevitable. The goal here isn’t to teach us how to avoid trials but instead how community can help us overcome them.
God has always sought to do great things not just in the lives of individuals but also within corporate and community settings. Proof? The Book of Acts. The book contains 11 direct references to people being in one accord and many more indirect references! We know Acts as a collection of some of the mighty things the Holy Spirit did in the early church. It contains the Day of Pentecost, phenomenal church
growth, Saul’s conversion to christianity and many more! In addition to these things, Acts gives us a clear picture of the importance of fellowship during a time of intense persecution.
The Need for Fellowship within your Community
1. A good community supports you materially.
An effective community is one that supports each other. In Acts Chapter 11, a prophet, Agabus prophesied about an impending famine. A forthcoming economic nightmare. Think of it as a modern day recession. In Verse 29, the Bible Records the disciples helping those in Judea [29 Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea]. While this scripture focuses on material help, support shouldn’t be limited to these; it could be your time, talent or treasure!
2. A good community supports you relationally.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, Solomon helps us understand that it’s dangerous to walk alone because we’ll be without support when we fall. It’s an understandable desire to want to be independent; we might not be open to the idea of vulnerability that’s necessary for being transparent about our struggles. We might even be embarrassed or shy about confronting them. I empathize with people who feel this way, but the truth is that we’re in an even more dangerous position when we try to fight our battles alone. We open up ourselves to the possibility of even more harm. [9 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up]
3. A good community supports you spiritually.
The apostles in the book of acts lived through exciting and (extremely) dangerous times. In Acts 12, Herod had killed James. When he saw that pleased the Jews, he imprisoned Peter with the intention of killing him as well. However, as recorded in Verse 5, constant prayer was offered to God, for Peter, by the Church. Essentially, the members of his community held a prayer meeting on his behalf. The result? Heaven responded by releasing angels to liberate him. Every story included in the bible is important; there’s many avenues God could have used to release Peter, but emphasizing the role his community played means that it’s important for us to understand.