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The Problem With Community

“While he (Jesus) was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:2-5 (emphasis added)

Jesus saw “their” faith . . . If I am being honest, I find this passage a bit offensive. It challenges my theology and the cultural norms by which I live my life. That paralyzed man received both spiritual and physical healing during his encounter with Jesus not because of his own faith but because he had four friends crazy enough to believe for the healing of another (and participate in the destruction of private property).

I come from a culture that has long been known to celebrate individuals who pursue their dreams and desires. Americans love independence. We value the freedom to strike out on our own and make a better life for ourselves. There is a dark side, however, to such a culture – it can often teach us to live in disconnection and isolation.  

That has been the story of my own journey. Being an eager child of God, I so desired to grow in spiritual maturity when I first came to know the Lord that I began to pursue Him the way my culture had taught me to chase my dreams. Being self-sufficient and self-made once seemed so noble. However, such an idea led to the misconception that maturity looked like independence and taking sole responsibility for my growth and healing. I was living an “American Dream” version of Christianity, which ultimately brought me to the point of isolation rather than a place of growth. After a decade of exhaustive efforts to “ascend the mountain of God” on my own, I began to realize that I was missing a vital element of the Kingdom of God: community.

We were never meant to be self-reliant. In the Garden of Eden, the place of perfect communion and connection between God and Adam, God said that it was “not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Meaning even in our perfect state, the Father designed us to be in relationship and convent with other image-bearers.

The “problem” with living life in community is that it requires trust. If you are like me, you have been a human for a while now, and the human experience has not always taught us to trust others readily. We all come from a history of disappointments, competition, shame, and pain. Add to that the false intimacy offered to us through social media and the current inflamed political climate, and we find ourselves surrounded by multiple reasons for retreat. One of the enemy’s greatest tactics is to divide and disconnect God’s people. Yet, we cannot get away from the Father’s emphasis on trust and being with others (Psalm 133:1, Galatians 6:2, James 5:16, Matthew 18:20, Romans 12:5, John 15:12-13, Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:44-47). Self-reliance and independence keep us away from true connection with God, His Kingdom, and His family. 

There are places of healing, growth, and maturity that we cannot get to alone. Gone are the days of the lone prophets and the self-made man or woman of God. Just like the paralyzed man, there are times in our lives when we must be carried to the feet of Jesus on the faith of those around us. True maturity looks like a holy dependence on both God and others. It looks like vulnerability. Saying “yes” to trusting the God-given community around us is saying “yes” to seeing the Kingdom of God advance on God’s terms, both in our own lives and on the earth.

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Miriam Beard
Miriam Beard
Miriam has the loudest laugh in the Garden Global team office. She loves the Lord and loves living her life pursuing Him and being with people. She loves stories, has way too many house plants, and cries when she sees a cute dog or a beautiful landscape.

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