The Joy of Living in Community

 In Tori Smith

Deandra is experiencing her first week of camp! It’s a camp for children and teens 17 and under who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. She’s been super excited about going, but when we pulled onto the campgrounds she froze. She did not want to get out of the car!. In fact, I had to tell her to GET OUT OF THE CAR!

At this camp, teens who are sixteen, seventeenth older are allowed to have their phones, but only while in the cabin. I waited until the evening to call and ask how she was doing. Still sensing some hesitation, I assured her that by the end of the week she would not want to come home. In just a few minutes, she texted back that her first afternoon had been great and she already didn’t want to come home! She said it was great being around others like herself – those that had to take insulin, count carbs, check their sugars and just generally have to see the world and live life differently. Any who are diabetic understand this very well. They were all the same. She belonged. They all understood. On the second night, her text was filled with stories of boys and girls trying to out-prank each other. In every word of her text I could hear laughter and life. The third night – ? silence! For a minute I wondered what they were up to, but smiled that whatever it was – they were in it together! Oh, the wonder of camp!

Then I thought …….

Her first day was great but not because she had known them for years or that they were all exactly the same. It was great because they came together over a common thing. Were they all different in other ways? Of course they were. They were from different racial and economic settings. I think they were all from the Dayton area, but they came from different schools. They were different in many ways. But they came together around one common thread. They were bonding and becoming friends – some will even be friends for life. Their experience reminded me of John 17, where Jesus prayed for the disciples.

John 17:6 I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by[c] that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by[d] the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

As Christians our common thread is we are all sinners in need of the savior who is Jesus Christ! We all come from different generational, racial, economic, educational, cultural, and geographic back grounds. But, because we are all in need of salvation, we can live in unity. If we are not seeking unity, we are living against God’s will and in sin. Diabetic camp works – not because they are all the same. It works because they are coming together around a common thread.

The body of Christ works – not because we are all the same. It works because all of us who belong to the body of Christ realize that we come together around our one common need – a Savior who can get us out of the mess we have created for ourselves. That Savior is Jesus Christ. It is my hope that we would more deeply seek to live in unity. That is what God requires! He requires us to live in unity because he knows the joy we will receive from the sense of belonging that comes from living in unity.

At the core of who we all are, we all have the same need and desire to feel that we belong. Joy comes from belonging to Jesus and living in unity.

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  • Carol patterson

    Right on, Tori. Thank you.

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