A picture of community

    July 18, 2019

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    In this age of blogging and carefully crafted websites, there is high demand for beautiful images. Fortunately, there are good photographers willing to allow their images to be utilized on stock photo websites. Since I’m not a good photographer, I am thankful to get to use those stock photos now and then when the need arises.

    Sometimes the search can be interesting, like the time I was searching for an image depicting a sense of community. Using “community” as my search term, I found image after image of people using social media and other forms of web connectivity. I thought I’d try using the word “neighborhood” instead. I discovered pictures of beautiful homes and streets – without people. The images that did have people depicted individuals sitting alone on their front porches. It was little better when I searched for “fellowship.” I found a single page of images showing a sense of connectivity. Just one page – and the photos were more of animals than of people.

    The sadness of what I was seeing hit me as I realized that this is what neighborhood and community have become in our culture.

    When I search Scripture, however, there is a very different picture. Not too long ago, I ran across an unexpected picture of the beauty of community. In Exodus 18, Moses and the Israelites were hanging out in the desert when Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came to visit. The two men greeted each other and sat down to catch up a bit. Moses caught Jethro up on all of the recent happenings with Pharaoh and the grand escape across the Red Sea. My favorite part is Jethro’s response:

    “‘Blessed be the Lord,’” Jethro exclaimed, ‘who rescued you from the power of Egypt and from the power of Pharaoh. He has rescued the people from under the power of Egypt! Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he did wonders when the Egyptians acted arrogantly against Israel’” (Exodus 18:10-11, CSB).

    “Now I know…” Is that not a beautiful phrase? It expresses the epitome of community, fellowship and encouragement. It is one person sharing what God has done in such a way that causes others to suddenly recognize more of Who God is. More of His character. More of His greatness. More of His goodness.

    We often buy into our culture’s view of community, living alongside each other but not in true connection to one another. But what if we were to be like Moses and Jethro? What if you and I were to more intentionally greet one another with stories of what God’s done since we last saw one another, even if it had only been a day or two? Oh, what community we’d share!

    Our culture has an individualized and lonely image of community. Oh, Church, may we turn that around and show this world a picture of what community really should be!

    Ann Hibbard is a member of East End Baptist Church in East End. Read her blog at annhibbard.com.

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