Better Together

A few years ago my wife and I decided we’d be fancy and do some gardening. I built raised beds for delicious fruits and veggies, like summer squash, okra, green beans, and so on. In another spot in our yard, we decided to do a berry patch.

Since I knew as much about berries as I knew about Yugoslavian civic history, I figured we’d just get one of each. So we got a few things like raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. I couldn’t wait to put them all in the ground and reap the delicious rewards.

Now, I did know that berries don’t typically bear fruit in the first year, because I’m awesome at trivia that I’ll probably only use once. So I wasn’t surprised when none of our bushes delivered on the promise of berry goodness.

I was surprised to find that our blueberry bush didn’t seem to thrive like I thought it might. In fact, I don’t think it lasted the season.

So I called up a friend of mine who is a horticultural Jedi and asked him what I did wrong. And I learned something important.

With a little help from my friends

You see, blueberry bushes are not self-pollinating. Which is a fancy way of saying they can’t bear fruit on their own.

You might already see where this is going.

Blueberry bushes must have a community of others around them in order to produce. They rely on the benefit of others to do what they were created to do.

People are wired in much the same way.

We can’t produce on our own. We can’t do life in a vacuum. We are created as social beings and we are wired to connect with others. Even the most introverted person on the planet cannot thrive without meaningful relationships. It’s just how God made us.

We see it all over Scripture, in verses like Proverbs 17:17 and famously in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10:

“Two are better than one, because they have a food reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

The wise King Solomon goes on to say in verse 12 that, “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

How do we fix it?

So what does this mean for us? It means we need to seek community. We need to seek out ways to connect with other believers for worship, teaching, serving, and ultimately simply doing life together.

Not only is it in our DNA to find deep fulfillment in this, but it is commanded in the Word.

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (emphasis added)

God knows a thing or two. You can tweet that.

He knows that he made us for community. He knows we are wired for relationships. And so He tells us how to do that.

In a Biblical body of believers (what we like to call a church), we know that we can build each other up. We bear one another’s burdens. We’re all headed the same direction and we all want the same thing: to glorify God and advance His kingdom purpose. And as part of a unified body, we can chase that prize more effectively than any one person can.

No comparison

Nothing is an effective substitute for connecting with a body of believers in intentional worship, community, and service.

I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the wonderful senior adults in our church. She’s in her 90s and she’s been going to our church for over 50 years. And she’s still so very active! What an incredible testimony.

As we talked, a question popped into my mind and I knew I had to put her on the spot. I told her about how much the young married and young adult classes are growing in our church, and how often I walk into my Sunday school class and see mostly new faces. I asked her if she had one piece of advice for my age group—just starting our families and finding our place in the church—what would she say. Without hesitation, she said something to the effect of, “Stay involved, because you will never find anything like your church family.”

Such wisdom in such a simple answer.

We are made for community. We are made to do this together.

To bear fruit

I’ll sum up with this passage from the second chapter of Acts (no, not the band):

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” - Acts 2:44-47

It’s a beautiful picture of the early church. Frankly, it’s moving to consider what it must have been like. But we don’t have to wonder. When we all engage in Biblical community, the way God has prescribed, we can experience that exact thing.

And look at the last sentence above. That is the fruit borne of community. They grew and grew and grew. Not that we want to inflate our numbers just because, but lives were changed. People were saved and turned to God. What sweeter fruit is there?