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Spiritual Training Cycle: Connection (wk. 11/13)

It doesn’t matter One of them is the CFO of a local healthcare company. Another one is a mom whose hardest workout each week is just keeping up with her several young children. One of them is a commercial pilot who spends his days jetting between Texas, the Caribbean and Colorado. Another one is a college student. One of them owns several local businesses. Another one just got laid off in a recent high-tech cutback and needs a job.

But when they show up for the community workout, their place in life doesn’t matter. They are in it together for the next 60 minutes. The walls of their individual lives disappear, replaced by the shared endeavor of stretching, sweating, and confronting the challenges given by the coach. It's a collective effort of determination. Equipment is shared, encouragement given, and, most importantly, a sense of unity prevails. Friendships are forged amid shared grimaces and laughter. In this microcosm of the community workout, individual stories merge into a larger story of collective growth. As a result, they all grow as individuals as well as a community.

Being in community goes against the grain – and makes us better people In an era when much of the world’s anger is polarized against anyone who is different, the people who work out together focus on what is shared. Here, energy pivots from what sets people apart to what ties them together. Their societal status, career trajectories, and personal situations melt into the background. In fact, in some respects, a healthy community fitness gym looks a bit like the early church.

A community of differences that is 2,000 years old In the years immediately following the resurrection of Jesus, the growing community of new Christians in Jerusalem lived life together.

These new believers came from various backgrounds. Some of them were local residents; some of them came from far and stayed because of the amazing things they saw God doing. Some were rich, some were poor. Some came from deeply religious backgrounds. Many were brand new to living a life of faith. Friendships were made and strengthened. Differences were minimized. The commonality of their commitment to a life in Christ overshadowed their differences. As a result, they grew as individuals and a community.

Luke, one of Jesus’ early followers, recorded what he saw in this new community toward the end of the second chapter of Acts:

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon ever soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” — Acts 2:42-44

Christian community changes individuals ‑ and ultimately impacts the world Living in Christian community is powerful. Two thousand years ago, the new Christians who were living in community found themselves changed people. They also started a movement that impacted everyone they influenced. Their faith in Jesus and how they live their lives changed people. In fact, Luke goes on to share that people living in this new Christian community “had favor with all the people”everyone they touched was touched by them. Two thousand years later, the power of their Christian community has forever changed the world.

Questions for Reflection:

What does “living in community” mean in 2023?

How can you grow in accepting people who are different than you?

What impact will that make on them and on the world around you?

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