By Erin Bird,

This past Sunday, I talked a little too much about porcupines. But I thought these prickly rodents were the perfect example to illustrate the spiritual discipline of community. God did not create humans to live like porcupines who avoid one another so they won’t get quilled. Instead, I think God wants us to fight through the “quills” that comes in relationships because He wants to do something great through these relationships.

A Clarification
As I reflected on my message from Sunday, there is one aspect to this topic I wish I had clarified better.

I believe the majority of the time, when mistakes are made in relationships, we need to forgive others. For instance, you might have a friend, sibling, or spouse, say some very hurtful words, and in most circumstances, you need to forgive and allow that person back into your life and heart.

However, there are some things that are downright evil. You still need to forgive, but to forgive does not mean to forget. If someone sexually abuses your child, you need to forgive them, but you also need to prosecute them – to keep other children safe and help them get to a spot where they can deal with their sin.

So please don’t mishear me: There are times when a person is so toxic that fighting for the relationship is actually harmful to them and to you. There are cases where you may need to sever a relationship, hopefully just temporarily. However, as I said on Sunday, the large majority of difficult situations you will probably find yourself in need to be fought through for the sake of the relationship.

Community Tips
A couple of things I want to draw out as you consider building Jesus-centered relationships that will help you go deeper with Jesus:

1. Give Time to Others
Community can’t be built by accident or  distance. So schedule time to be with people. Perhaps you can give your Friday nights to others, or do early morning breakfast with a couple close friends every week. Whatever you do, give some time to people.

2. Ask good questions
True community doesn’t come only through time together. To truly get to know someone, you need to ask them good questions. So don’t dominate the conversation. Ask them questions to find out how they truly are doing.

3. Listen
This should go without saying, but when you ask a question, truly listen to them. Don’t start thinking about your next question. Take an interest in them.

4. Be transparent
When you do talk, don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. Just be you. Be honest with your faults. Be open about your pursuit of Jesus. Just be real.

Ideas for Going Deeper with Community
So if you want to enter into the spiritual discipline of community, here are some ideas for how you can go further with it:

  • Get involved in a Growth Group this Fall
  • Invite a friend over for dinner
  • Stop by a friend’s house just to say hi
  • Send a text or Facebook message to someone to let them know you are praying for them
  • Read a book with a friend this summer
  • Plan a moms-play-date w/ kids or a Moms-Night-Out
  • Get a group of guys together to go fishing or take in a Bucks game.
  • Write a letter to someone close to you letting them know what you appreciate about them
  • If you’re married, plan a date where you ask each other questions.
  • If you have kids, plan a one-on-one outing with each child.
  • Invite a friend to meet weekly to simply read Scripture together or pray for one another.