Following Jesus Together

A couple weeks ago I went on a missions trip with our HYPE students.  It was a great week that had a lot of impact on the lives of our students and leaders.

All throughout the week, students were challenged to see how they could take the things they were experiencing and make them a part of their everyday lives.  The idea wasn’t to see the missions trip as a “pause” or a “vacation” from our normal way of life, but instead to be a tangible example of how we can live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 on a daily basis.  On the last day, there was a time for students to share what they learned over the past week and how they were impacted and challenged to continue this way of life when they got home.  It was awesome to hear student after student go deeper than just sharing emotional memories of the week and share about how God had challenged them to live His Word out in their lives.

As I sat there listening to the students, I started to think about something.  Why does it always seem easier to be challenged and grow during a week long missions trip than it does in a “normal” day of life?  What is the difference?  We have the same Holy Spirit at home that we do on the trip.  We have the same Word of God at home that we do on the trip.  We even have similar needs and opportunities to serve others at home the way we do on the trip. Sure, there’s a little more time set aside during the trip to disconnect from distractions and spend time in God’s Word, but we don’t have to spend a week away from everything else to make God’s Word a priority in our lives.   So what is it that seems to help us grow in a deeper way while we’re on the trip?

The only thing that I could put my finger on that was different on the trip than a “normal” day at home was the heightened sense of community with other believers.  Think about it.  On the trip we eat every meal together.  We share bunks with one another (guys with guys and girls with girls, of course!).  We serve alongside one another.  We study God’s Word together.  We spend our free time together.  We’re in constant community with each other.  When we come home and get back into the “normal routine” we tend to lose that depth of community.

But shouldn’t community with one another be the “normal routine”?  2 Timothy 2:22 says, “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”  (Emphasis mine.)  We’ve been created to have a personal relationship with God, not a private one.  Yes, there are times when it’s good to get alone and pray, study God’s Word, and hear from God.  But a life with God that’s apart from others is not Biblical.  Even before Adam had sinned in the Garden, when He still had a perfect relationship with God, God said it’s not good for man to be alone, and He gave Eve to Adam.  

We need to follow Jesus together as a way of life, not just on a week-long trip.  A life that’s in community with both God and others is a life that is healthy and growing.

Who are you following Jesus with?  What areas of your life are you prone to isolating yourself from others?  How can you invite others into the things that make up your everyday life and live out Deuteronomy 6:4-9 together?