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Susie and I moved to new part of the Nashville area this spring.
When we were making our moving decision, we settled on two possibilities. Option A provided a shorter commute to work, but meager friendships and connections. Option B required a longer commute to work, but more opportunity for solid community. Each option provided about the same amount of house for the money, so that point was rather moot.
We went with Option B, which was my first choice, but not Susie’s. We were nervous, but we’re really glad we did.
Susie and I are both from the same town in Indiana. Before we moved to Nashville just over three years ago, virtually 100% of our friends lived within a three-hour drive of our town. We really took it for granted, I think, because we didn’t realize how alone we could feel until we moved seven hours away from everything we’ve ever known.
The first two-and-a-half years we lived in Nashville, we were really bad at making friends. We lived in an apartment and we more afraid of than friendly with our neighbors, and we loved our church, but lived 25-minutes away from it and most of our friends who went there, which prevented any frequent hangouts.
Plenty of you reading this already know this, but the first two-and-a-half years we lived in Nashville were incredibly difficult from a social perspective. We spent our entire lives in the same 60-mile stretch of Indiana, and when we moved seven hours south to a foreign land called “The South,” we didn’t realize how hard it would be to make friends, and we were terrible at making friends.
But, praise God, since we moved in April and have gotten settled in our new town and our house, we have grown in our ability to make friends. We’ve met some neighbors, our church is only ten minutes up the street, and our community group is just five minutes away.
Since moving and establishing ourselves in a new town and amidst a new community of friends and neighbors, I’ve been learning about the give and take of community.
Already, in just the last couple of months that our community group has been meeting regularly, Susie and I have been so blessed to remember what it feels like to be a part of a community that loves each other even though we aren’t lifelong friends. When we left Indiana, I was always afraid we would never make friendships that could compare with the ones back home. Already it feels like we have found a community of people that would do anything for us—God has so so blessed us in this way.
Before we even joined the church, a group of people from the church helped us move into our house. This is speaking my love language big time—I hate moving, and these people did it for us even though they had no idea who we were or if we would even come to their church.
Community gives a lot. Community encourages; community provides; community corrects; community sacrifices. In short, a community loves.
God has been so good and has so blessed us with a group of friends who will love us enough to encourage us when we need encouraging and correct us when we need correcting. We don’t have everything in common, but we have the most important thing in common: our gospel-driven devotion to one another.
With the blessing of receiving the gifts of gospel-driven community comes the requirement of investing in gospel-driven community. I do not say “requirement” to say it is burdensome…but it might be.
I have always marveled at how a group of Christians can come together, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, political stances, interests, or otherwise, and sacrificially love each other because of how miraculously they have been sacrificially loved.
If we are to benefit from the sacrificial love of gospel-driven community, we must also love sacrificially for the sake of our community.
This can be burdensome. Sacrificial love is rarely easy—after all, it is sacrificial. But, by the grace of God, sacrificial love brings joy in its wake. Loving others as Christ has loved us is a worshipful, God-glorifying experience.
My prayer for anyone reading this is that you’ve found a community of some kind, in your neighborhood, church, or otherwise, that both allows you to receive sacrificial love and requires you to give it, too. It is one of the most wonderful experiences in life, to imitate the sacrificial love of Christ.