Many days in life are consumed with busyness.
Morning comes, the reel begins. The list of to-dos is already longer than the day has hours, anxiety appears in anticipation of accomplishing the agenda. The day is full. Minds are full. Space can hardly be found for an unexpected conversation or interruption. There’s no room to meet an unanticipated need. The people you cross paths with may be unnoticed. This chaos is noisy. It drowns peace. It steals joy and breeds isolation.
People are designed for community and long for connection. It is through life together that individuals thrive. In a Christian community, this goes beyond social events and Sunday mornings. As believers, we are exhorted to love and encourage one another, build each other up, serve one another, and honor one another. We are called to forgive, bear with, rejoice with, be patient with, admonish and teach one another. We are even instructed to confess our sins to one another.
One Anothering begins with listening.
It takes time and attention. It requires patience. With every moment full of busyness, it’s difficult to recognize the needs of those around you, the ones God is inviting you to meet. God’s voice may be diminished. Bonhoeffer in Life Together explains:
“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions.”
Interruptions to the day’s plan should be expected. But opportunities are missed if we are not listening and looking. Seeking Him first gives order to the day and opens the heart to hear His voice. It shifts thinking from your plans to His plans.
This can feel complex. Sometimes life is so full and it’s hard to see what to cut out. Perhaps multiple jobs are necessary. Volunteering or serving at church has consumed the calendar. Helping family or friends has left you feeling like there is nothing left to give. At first glance, these all seem like honorable things. But if life is so full we neglect time with the Lord and our role in Christian community, then something is out of order.
These areas of life can overlap.
But, often it is my own plans and ideas that crowd God’s voice. And that is when I feel overwhelmed and burned out. Then withdrawal and isolation. Repeat!
Christian community as described by the one-anothers in scripture is beautiful: love, service, forgiveness, encouragement… It helps fulfill the heart’s longing, both to invest in others, and have others invest in you. If we aren’t experiencing this, perhaps we need to take time to pause and listen.
“Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together)
As you commune with God, ask Him how he might shift or develop your role in your church community. Who is he calling you to serve or acknowledge? What might you need to say no to, so you may say yes to an integral role in Christian community?