The town I live in barely hits the 800 mark for population. Most of you go to churches with more people in attendance than the place that I live. Small towns have a distinct but complicated reputation.
The morning dew hasn’t even burned off when we head out for our walk. The fresh smell of newly cut grass wafts to my nose while the hum of lawn mowers runs faintly in my ears. Two blocks in I see a friend wave and watch my kids rush ahead to go say, ”Hi.” A few blocks later we pass the museum and my kids beg to stop. The same thing happens at the Flower Shop. And Annie’s house. And the store.
This is life in a small town. Everybody knows everybody else and there is no such thing as a secret around here.
Living in this little community has taught me a lot about being the body of Christ.
Some of the lessons have been painful and awkward, some have been beautiful, but they have all been valuable. Small towns can teach us a lot about how to live as a faith community. Often the strengths and struggles we face as a small, tight-knit church community mirror those of my small town:
We Support Each Other. For anyone to make a living around here, we all have to be willing to invest in each other.
Yes, we have to spend a little more on gas and groceries, but if one business goes down it won’t be long until others start crashing.
Strengthening each other makes us all stronger as a whole. When I look around the body of Christ, I am in awe of the wide variety of gifts that He has given His people. They are amazing, and if we are willing to support each other, we will be so much healthier.
Will it be hard? Yes it will. It will cost us something-- Time. Money. Pride.
Let’s surrender all those things to build a community worth having.
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5
We Deal with Our Junk. This weekend we will be celebrating one hundred years as a city. Some of the people whose names were etched on this town’s foundation still have their names in living legacy through their children walking these streets. Bad blood could tear a town this small to pieces. I have known of many of tiff, but people around here are so good about facing the problems and moving on.
Listen, there is no grace in allowing resentment to simmer in the name of avoiding conflict. We have to learn to tell the truth in love and know that at the end of the day, even if we don’t see eye to eye, we are looking in the same direction. We as a church need to learn to live and forgive like we will be spending eternity together.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matthew 5:24
We Embrace the Strangers. Outsiders can have a hard time coming into strong communities. By the very virtue of their strength communities work well together they way they are.
I should know. This wasn’t my town, it was my husband’s hometown.
His friends’ parents and grandparents had been friends. I was the new girl. Sometimes a smile and a wave doesn’t cut it. I was blessed to have friends that pursued me, that took me and loved me well. When we have new people in our churches sometimes a smile and a handshake isn’t enough, we will need to invite and embrace newcomers into our circles.
Living in a community will always come with challenges, but we have a wild and tremendous blessing of getting to be in the community that forms the Body of Christ.
As you go forward today, I challenge you to live in your church body like you were living in a flesh and blood town. Are you supporting your brothers and sisters? Are you dealing with the hard stuff? Are you embracing the new people? Sisters I encourage you to rise up and be a builder today. Build a community that is strong, safe, and kind.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
Word of the Day:
“If each part of the body were the same part, there would be no body. But truly God put all the parts, each one of them, in the body as he wanted them. So then there are many parts, but only one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:19-20
Lord, I pray that we would embrace being your community. Help us Lord to honor you as we work together as your children. Show us how to live with each other with You as our guide.