What do Leslie Knope and a 6'9" former basketball player have in common? Those who have seen my favorite sitcom "Parks and Recreation" know that Leslie Knope and a 6'9" basketball player have obvious physical differences. But this basketball player, named Timo, was my previous mentor and pastor, and he has many commonalities with community-loving Leslie:
- They’re encouragers and motivators
- They're incredibly sincere and trustworthy
- They're giving and intentionally thoughtful
- They're great friends who seek to bring out the best in others
- They're loyal
- They're full of energy
- They're influencers who are always surrounded by people
Both Leslie and Timo are two people who put enormous value in relationships and community while running away from isolation like the plague!
Yet, below the surface, Timo and Leslie have very different motivations for this type of life. The two words that distinctly separate my former pastor’s life from Leslie’s is fellowship and obedience—fellowship with God and his people and obedience to God and all that He commands. Community is important, and being a good person is important, but it is eternally more important to live lives which bear fruit for the kingdom, marked by fellowship and obedience.
We have the greatest example of this in Jesus Christ. He, in obedience to the will of God the Father (John 6:38), came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). We would have never understood the depth of God's love and the purposes of his commands apart from the gospel message of Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection.
What's our motivation?
Because of the gospel, Timo showed me Christ-like fellowship and obdience. I could see this in how he walked in the light (1 John 1:5-9) and lived out the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20). In living this way, my mentor was the most influential person in my life to date. May we all have such an influence on others for His kingdom as we live in fellowship and obedience!
Sound City, as we examine our own lives, let's ask ourselves whether we want relationships and community because of self-fulfillment, or because we are living life in fellowship and obedience out of the overflow of love for Christ. Do we value community because it's merely a good idea or because Christ died to bring us into his family? Do we love people for what we can get from them or because of what Christ has given to us? As we honestly answer these questions, we have an opportunity to experience fruitful relationships that are lived in obedience and love to Jesus!