Why is community so encouraging? Last week, Emily and I each turned a year older. While at our morning 5:00 a.m. cross-fit class on her birthday, Emily was challenged to do 43 burpees, one for each year of her age. Being the supportive husband I am, I positioned myself beside her and labored through 43 burpees. She was so encouraged by my display of support. The very next day we noticed that her ankle was swollen from an injury that she had sustained a few weeks back. A friend instructed Emily to stay home and rest, so the next day, which was my birthday, she was not able to attend class. I knew that my cross-fit friends were going to challenge me to do 41 burpees, one for each year of my age. A little sad about Emily’s absence, I was prepared to tell them, “No”. Sure enough, after the completion of the workout, one of our friends came up to me and said it was time to do my birthday burpees. I looked at her and said, “Well, I don’t think I am going to do them today.” She said, “Come on, I will do them with you. Let’s go.” Before I could drop down and do my first burpee, four of our friends had surrounded me and were doing burpees with me. Exhausted from the workout, I lagged behind their pace, and when they finished I still had 11 burpees left. The lady that challenged me to do my birthday burpees dropped down and completed 11 additional burpees so that I would not finish alone. If it was not for my work out friends, I would have walked away sad that morning, but because of their support and encouragement, I left the gym crying tears of joy. I was still sad that Emily wasn’t there to be with me, but what a joy it was to have four men and women surround me and lift me up.
God created us to be encouraged by community. A great example is found in Exodus chapter 17.
“Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”
What would have happened if Aaron and Hur had not been there to hold up Moses’ arms? The Israelites would have been defeated! God placed people in Moses’ life to support and encourage him so that he could accomplish his role as the leader of the Israelites.
Additionally, the author of the Book of Hebrews wrote, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
This is clearly a message to believers. God created us for community, and we naturally need the community of a church family to encourage us as we do His work. My cross-fit friends encouraged me to overcome my sadness and fatigue so that I could complete what seemed like an insurmountable task. Our brothers and sisters, in the church, are to encourage us as we do God’s work. The Christian life is not easy. If you are seeking to see people come to know Jesus, Satan is going to place a mountain of discouragement in your life, and if you are seeking to grow to be more like Jesus, he is going to do everything He can to interrupt that good work as well. We need fellow believers to encourage us to overcome Satan’s obstacles. We were created for Christian community.