I was asked a question on a podcast interview, and I blew the answer.
The question: Why is community so important for growth?
I wasn’t expecting the question. I responded by saying some true things: that the Bible is addressed to groups, not individuals; that we need others to grow; that we can’t possibly practice the many one-another commands of Scripture if we don’t live in community.
I missed the most basic answer of all. We need community because we’re made in the image of God. God lives in community, and he’s created us in his image to live in community as well.
In The Reason for God, Tim Keller writes:
…if God is triune, then loving relationships in community are the “great fountain… at the center of reality”…
Ultimate reality is a community of persons who know and love one another. That is what the universe, God, history, and life is all about … We believe the world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. You were made for mutually self-giving, other-directed love.
It’s because we are made in the image of God that it’s important for us to live in community. In How to Grow, we offer three core habits that are foundational to all spiritual growth. One of them is to pursue worship and fellowship within a church community. We never outgrow this habit. It’s essential to our growth. It’s messy, sometimes disappointing, and hard, but it’s also joy-filled and absolutely necessary for us to grow. God made us to need each other.
We need community for its benefits, but that’s not the primary reason. We need community because we are made in the image of God. God made us to need community because he made us to be like him.