Have you ever walked through a door, entered a room and felt instantly at home?
There, in that place, the stresses of the day melt away. Whatever happened up until the moment you stepped over that threshold fades to distant murmurs in the background, and serene feelings of peace wrap around you like a well-worn blanket. You sink into an overstuffed chair whose cushion forms to the familiar shape of your tired body, causing a satisfied sigh to slip past your barely parted lips.
You smile. Here is your happy place. Here is where you belong.
People often join churches for the community it offers. For both altruistic and selfish motives, people long to belong. They desire to be someone meaningful. To do something meaningful. Being part of a local church body offers both a place and a purpose.
That is… if you’re doing things right.
Is it sinful to seek God for these relationships? Is it selfish? I don’t think so. And the Bible would seem to agree with me. After all, isn’t that why we were created? For relationship with Him, and with one another.
Local churches are unique, in that, they draw together many different kinds of individuals and unite them to a common cause. In most circumstances, we tend to get around the people that are most like us. “Birds of a feather,” and all that. But in most local church bodies, you’ll find all kinds of characters, bearing all kinds of stories.
After college, I found myself serving at a local church alongside 4 other recently graduated students. Let me tell you, we were a motley crew.
The first, an obvious leader, though he’d deny it to the end. Strong, tall and oddly charismatic for someone who only spoke when and to whom he chose. Second, his fierce and faithful, loving (then) fiancé; feisty, but fragile. She was tender on the inside. The third, a kindred, with her deep soulful voice to match her deep and soulful heart and the fourth, a kind spirit, whose arms and eyes are always open to those in need and those in pain. Then myself. The girl who asked too many questions. Often carried away by her passions, who lacked compassion and was always overflowing with emotions.
Introvert, extrovert, vanity, varsity, bookish, snobbish, cultured and cultural. Surfer, painter, writer, singer, the stoic and the hysterical; the ex-pothead and the ex-wannabe Regina George. We had every base covered by way of personality.
In any other setting, we would have overlooked one another. Bypassed one another. But, by God’s grace, for a season, we were each other’s safe place in a world hostile to who we were and what we were offering: Jesus. Together, we were peddlers of the Good News.
For a time they were my niche.
What a beautiful thing faith is. Especially in community. Faith in community brings together people who would otherwise have nothing to do with one another. In that way, Christ becomes our equalizer. He alone is our common thread.
Friend, wherever you are on this particularly nostalgic Friday evening, my prayer for you is this: I pray that you would find haven in your community of faith. I pray that you would gather with fresh eyes to see what a common miracle the local church is… this body made of parts so irrefutably incompatible, yet, intrinsically connected and vitally unique.
I pray that you would find your niche.
Until next time.