Over the past couple of weeks I have been blessed to take part in the '40 Days of Community' (I like to refer to it as 40 Days of Spiritual Spankings:) with my church. Everyone is reading the same book, sermons are built upon the weeks readings, and 32 small groups are meeting weekly for discussion and fellowship. So far, it has been pretty incredible.
As a diligent reader of the New Testament, I am well aware of how important fellowship (community) is to the Christian walk. Paul speaks of it often throughout his letters to the churches and I have personally experienced both, the power of fellowship and the stumbling of my walk with Christ when I am not in the fellowship that God desires for me. However, over the years it seems that I have forgotten that the words community and fellowship are not just about being with my brothers and sisters in Christ. They're also about being 'out' in our communities and building bridges with non believers. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Jesus commanded us to do the same.
I never intentionally set out to pull myself apart from non believers. I don't think any Christian really does. I did set out to draw near to Christ and allow Him to change my old habits, ways, and patterns, though. Through that change I found myself drawn to other believers who I could learn from. I became very active with my church, got into a small group, and suddenly I found a very comfortable place amongst other believers and a very uncomfortable place among non believers.
If you have ever heard the Bible referred to as 'the Living Word' and you question why; I challenge you to read a chapter one week, go back to it a month or two later, then go back to it a month or two after that. I can almost guarantee that each time you read that chapter, God will show you something you missed, or didn't understand, the last 3 times you read it. It's really quite amazing. That is precisely what has been happening to me. Jesus is taking things that I knew in my head and placing them in my heart.
For the first time in my walk with Christ I truly have a desire to 'seek and save the lost'. Of course, I have always said that I want to see everyone in the Kingdom of Heaven. And I do. I don't wish the fires of hell on anybody. I just haven't been doing much about it. The exception to that is the youth. I really try to reach the youth I work with. Adults, well....I leave them to other people. Simply put- Jesus' Greatest Commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself, has been my least priority.
Change is a long process. It certainly doesn't happen overnight. Look how long it's taken me to really understand a simple commandment. But change is necessary. So, today, I will begin to make the changes needed in my life to become more like Christ. I will pray about bridges that can be built with non believers. I will let Jesus show me where the troubled waters are and I will lay myself down as a path to Him.