I think many of us want to be part of something bigger, perhaps a movement that changes the world, a group of people who love each other, or both. Certainly Jesus calls Christians to live as community, love each other, and serve God as He changes the world.
One of the most common expressions of faith is our involvement with our church or our small group. Hopefully, there we find people to love and who love us back — and encourage us to show love, compassion, and kindness to other people whether we’ve known them for decades or minutes.
Community groups model the early church
We may also find this sense of community and a sense of purpose outside of the church, even in places that we wouldn’t expect.
I’ve written about how I believe cycling groups model community. My involvement in cycling has given me a deeper understanding about trusting, serving, mentoring, and loving people — just as the early Christians loved and cared for each other.
Today, I want to tell you about another group of cyclists who model community in a fresh, inspiring way that exceeds my expectation of camaraderie. It’s the United States Air Force Cycling Team. I have no affiliation with this group, except that I follow their adventures on Facebook after encountering team members during a bike ride.
Members of the team appeared miraculously just moments after a friend crashed his bike during a epic ride across Iowa. Specifically, this ride was RAGBRAI (The Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), the “oldest, largest, and longest recreational bicycling touring event in the world.”
Team members delivered medical care (one was a nurse practitioner) and ensured the safety of upcoming cyclists by directing traffic around the accident site. In addition to dealing with medical issues prior to the arrival of ambulances (which can take a while given the congestion of roads packed with more than 10,000 cyclists), they also provide mechanical support.
This group is made up of current and former service members who ride their bikes for fun, but also provide impromptu, unpaid, and professional support to cyclists during RAGBRAI, adopted as the team’s signature event, and other rides.
Specific ways to act like the early church from the Book of Acts
What I see in this group is also what I see in the early Christian community from the book of Acts:
- love for each other
- intense, focused training and discipline in preparing for the ride and service
- unique and valuable gifts honed and developed, and then shared with the broader community through seemingly random encounters
- an expectation of finding and serving needs in the community
- joy through service and camaraderie despite hardship
As Christians, we want to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. But how precisely do we do this? The Air Force Cycling Team gives me some ideas. One thing I’ve begun doing is bringing extra items on bike rides — I plan to continue this practice and find more ways of expectantly serving needs.
What about you? How do you love God, neighbor, and yourself? Have you been inspired to make changes recently? Share your thoughts in the comments.