Read Psalm 133.
This simple and short 'song of ascents' invokes the imagery of a community traveling up to Jerusalem, singing together. Despite only having three verses, the application of this psalm is something Christians work on their entire life (and forevermore!). "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!", or in the Message, "when brothers and sisters get along!". There is not an assumption here that community will be easy, there is simply the assumption of a community. When you accept God's gift of salvation, you are adopted into a faith family whether you like it or not. Many times in Scripture you will read warnings against isolation, and encouragement to meet regularly with believers, spur one another on, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The challenge for us in this psalm is not if, but how we intend to exist in this faith family.
The remaining couple verses use imagery to convey the benefits of living in community. The idea of oil represents being made holy, or consecrated (think of how priests were anointed, and interceded on behalf of the community). Essentially, in community we can act in such a way to make those around us holy and bring them closer to God. Then thinking of morning dew, flowing down a mountain to drench an otherwise dry land. Community is life giving, and offers a sense of newness or unexpectedness to our lives. These images may also invoke comparisons in how the Scriptures often speak about God, as we are made holy through him, and his mercies are new every morning. It is clear community is important, with the psalmist concluding so with "the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore" to point to the blessing we have in a faith family for eternity.
The challenge the psalmist presents is not only to dwell with your community, but to also do so harmoniously. First let's talk about dwelling. At one fifth Sunday at Jeremy's house, he mentioned that the house next door was for sale in case anyone was interested in being neighbors. I told some of my fellow GC members that we should all go in on the house and live together. We had fun imagining what that may look like, but I think I was the only one in the group who was actually semi-serious. Despite my dreams of living in a big house with my GC being crushed, I believe there are other ways to dwell together. The best image for me is thinking about an actual family (what a startling comparison!). Family doesn't have to live in the same house, but there is an understanding that the lives of the members intersect, and what one member does can impact another member. Strong families are ones in regular communication with each other, and who frequently spend time together. Healthy families learn to resolve conflict, may often disagree on issues but maintain respect for one another. There are many more things I could say here, but I bet you get the picture. It's easy to view our relationship with our family/spouse in this way, but how often are we holding our friends to such a high standard? But this is the exact reason we use the term faith family to describe the church/Christian community. We should view our brothers and sisters in Christ with the same innate connection that we view our actual family. With that understanding, we can better prioritize our time to invest in these relationships.
Just as we don't choose our family, we also don't choose our Christian brother and sisters. There are members of my GC who I absolutely love, but have often said things to them like "I don't think we would have been friends in high school". Basically, we don't have a lot in common. This is why I love the Message version of this psalm, blatantly stating the importance of our faith family "getting along". Not having similar interests is likely not causing intense arguments, however I imagine contention to come from feelings of disproportion concerning input and output. No family is healthy if one member is always giving, and never receiving; or vice versa. This might be a good time for you to reflect on your role in the Christ City faith family. Is it one where you feel strung out with how much you are contributing, but feel as if your needs are not being met? Or maybe you are encouraged by how many blessings you are receiving from this family, but realize you have not taken the opportunity to minister to your other family members. As stated at the start, there is no guarantee community will be easy, and in reality it is actually very difficult. Just like in any normal family, life together requires communication, sacrifice, and grace to dwell in unity.
My challenge here is to think about any expectations you may unknowingly be placing on the members of this faith family, or on yourself. Community is something that always sounds good, and "living life together" is a fun Christian phrase we love to say, but is it something we are actually pursuing/prioritizing? How can we be like the flowing of anointed oil, encouraging those in our DNA and making them holy through our faithfulness? The Lord gives us a common mission towards glorifying Him, just as the Israelites would sing this song together on the way to worship in Jerusalem. We are all on the same path towards God, and that journey is made easier when we work and grow together. Take time to thank the Lord for the community He has provided you, and reflect on how to continue to cultivate growth in this faith family.