The Gift of Community
I have been living in Austin for just over four years now. When I first got here, I knew almost no one outside of my family that lived here. I spent quite a few months feeling lonely and without any real sense of community. When I finally got connected to our church, joined a Missional Community (what our church calls small groups), and made friends, I was so incredibly thankful. Since then, I have formed deep bonds with some of those people. We have walked through life together, have pointed one another to Jesus, and have helped one another persevere. My love and gratitude for my community here in Austin has continued to grow over the last few years.
As time has passed, change has occurred, as it inevitably does. Friends have moved away, changed jobs, gotten married, had babies, left for the international mission field. Though I continue to love these people, these life changes have already taken some of them out of my everyday life. Sure, we still care for one another, but we no longer spend time together on a regular basis.
Change is Coming
Now I stand on the brink of another change. My husband and I have realized through prayer and just practical realities of life that God is starting to pull our community in different directions, calling us to various missions here in Austin and beyond. Soon the Missional Community group that has been meeting weekly for almost four years is going to throw a big party to celebrate all that God has done in that time together, and then we will go our separate ways to pursue the missions God has placed in each of our lives. Again, we will still care for one another, but the time we spend together is going to change.
Why We Can Change
It makes me a little sad to think about these changes. Part of me wants to grip onto this community that has meant so much to me and just keep doing what we have been doing. But God has been reminding me that there is a greater calling and purpose for each of our lives:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”
The truth is that we have a limited window of time in which to fulfill this Great Commission to make disciples. As far as I can tell, we will not make disciples in Heaven. This is the work and the mission we have been given in this present life. So when we keep ourselves and the people we love from that mission, we are missing out on doing what God has commanded us to do. And we are ultimately missing out on the joy that comes from that obedience - the joy that comes from seeing other people get to know Jesus and become more like Him.
God has also been reminding me of the sweet truth that this life is not the end. I may be seeing less of some people I love now, but we will have eternity together. So I can sacrifice time with them today for the sake of the mission we have been given, knowing that someday we will get to celebrate together in the presence of God all that He did in our lives here on this earth. We will get to enjoy Jesus together with our brothers and sisters in Christ forever.
This is the same truth that helps us persevere through any sacrifice, loss, hardship, or suffering.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Cor. 4:16-18)
Is God asking you to sacrifice something – time, comfort, relationships, money, or something else - for the sake of fulfilling the Great Commission? How does looking to the unseen help you loosen your grip on that thing?