By Timothy Spurgeon, Resonate WSU
There are things that come naturally to some people. Some of us are natural leaders, some love to organize, and we all know that annoyingly talented human that can pick up any instrument and play effortlessly. Whatever it is, people tend to lean toward areas in which they naturally excel. However, there are other things that do not come naturally. It takes a while before we get the hang of standing on a surfboard. Some people spend hours training for that marathon. These things are not second nature and take a lot of practice and effort to accomplish.
Vulnerability in community is one of those things that does not come naturally to us. For some, it takes your friends asking if you’re O.K. a couple hundred times before you finally respond to get them off your back. Others that appear good at community often place too much of their burdens on people, running to them instead of God. Whether you can pour your heart out within hours of knowing someone or you are a brick wall, vulnerability is meant to be a gift to you and those around you.
It is not natural for me to open up to community. My anxiety tells me they’ll judge me. My depression tells me they couldn’t care less. Yet, my Bible tells me my community is to rejoice and weep with me. I am to confess to my community and to be healed. My mental health is not to be trusted because it is good one day and bad the next. Even my everyday feelings, which are given to us by God, can be hijacked by sin and make them untrustworthy. The God of the Bible is never-changing, and He tells me to live in community- to be real, to reveal what is hard, to let them in.
We often don’t realize the opportunities that are given to those that are vulnerable. By being vulnerable with your community you allow yourself to experience God’s grace, allow your community to look like Christ to you, and give God the glory He deserves.
1. Vulnerability allows you to experience Christ’s love and grace
There is a lot to be said for that moment when you in anguish confessing sin, and instead of brushing you aside, your community smiles and says “You are forgiven. Christ still loves you”. In James 5:16 it says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Jesus forgave our sins when He died on the cross, and He heals us when we go to our community and confess. There is relief of the anguish in our souls when we allow our community into what is hard. What is astounding is when you are vulnerable about your fears and doubts with your brothers and sisters in Christ, they get to show you the grace that is offered through Christ. You get to tangibly experience the grace and love that you read in scripture. What a blessing that God not only shows us His abounding grace for us in His word, but He reveals it in our new found family in Christ!
2. Vulnerability allows your community to experience the joy of Christ-like service to the broken-hearted
Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb with Mary and Martha. He was of course going to raise Lazarus from the dead in a hot second, but He first sat and cried with his friends. He did this to show us how to handle grief and the suffering with those around us. In 1 Corinthians 12:25-27 it says, “so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it”. When you celebrate how Christ has changed your friend’s heart, your community is to celebrate with you. When you are falling apart because your mom’s sickness is back, your community is to mourn with you. That is just objectively how the Church is to function. In Galatians 6:2 it says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” You are allowing your friends to look more like Jesus than if they were to leave you to the weight of your burdens alone. Let them look like Jesus to you.
3. You are giving God the glory He deserves of being your ultimate provider and providing you a community that will point you back to Him.
When things are hard, it is so easy to look to ourselves. The enemy has an easy time taking our insecurities and blowing them out of proportion in order to make us think only of our own pain. It is hard to see the sun when the dark clouds loom above us. Our community is designed to remind us of the bright sun that is hidden behind the clouds. God is made perfect in our weakness; His glory and love are enough to sustain us. He is our ultimate provider and comfort, and our community serves to point us back to the one who deserves the glory, our joy, and our lives. When you run, run to community. Do not run to them for ultimate comfort and satisfaction. As much as they look like Jesus, they are not Him. Run to them because they point you back to the cross, to the savior that took all of that pain and suffering and sin to the grave and left it there when He arose. Give God the glory He deserves by being reminded of His grace through the community He has given you.
There is so much to gain when we live in the design God has created for us. God’s design is not isolation but incorporation through vulnerability with the family he created. We can experience God’s design fully when we live in glorifying vulnerability.