"This life therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal, but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed." --Martin Luther

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The feeling of community is something that everyone longs for. It is imbedded inside each one of us. It has been placed there by God. And it is so incredibility hard to attain. Do you know what I am talking about? Many do not. They long for something but do not exactly know what, so they look any and everywhere. It is something we have discussed at length in my small group for years. The last time it was in the context of discussing Paul’s letter regarding slaves. I have seen on many occasions criticism aimed at missionaries for having “house help” or such. People here in the west, particularly in the north, somehow they see it as a modern form of slavery. It is sad, because it is often the furthest from the truth. If anything it fosters community. How you wonder? In our experience with the people we had work for us, they were employees but they were also family. In the west that is hard to understand because we view things in an employee/employer context. There your employee becomes part of your family. His/her family is a part of your extended family. Their problems become your problems. Community becomes an outpouring of the culture. When you go to church and worship with your employee they are family not just a worker. You know what is going on in their life and their families’ lives. Your care for them does not end at 5pm Monday thru Friday. Over there in a church people see each other as family; over here we have a church of individuals that worship together. That is a big difference, one that causes a tremendous amount of isolation. We as a culture are just too busy to invest the kind of time and energy it takes to build community. It is also dangerous, because for community to happen you have to become vulnerable, open yourself up to others. And that is hard, especially if you have not done it before, if it is not the way you were raised. The Church was designed to be a “community” of believers. That community would show the love of Christ to each other and make itself attractive to the rest of the world. Instead the rest of the world sees very little different between the church and the world. We focus so much on outreach, when the main outreach needs to be within the walls of the church not outside. I think if we were doing the things we should be doing (creating community) a lot of the outside world would be knocking on the doors to get in. Why do a lot of people go to bars? Join gangs? Join cults? They desire a sense of community. Why do people try to escape by doing drugs (whether illegal or prescription)? They are trying to escape the pain they feel and a lot of that is loneliness and self-hate (I know what I am talking about, I have been there, done that, got the tee-shirt). They do not know what it is like to have people around them that genuinely care about them. That is community, what the church is to be, what it was designed to be. The question is: do you want it? Are you willing to work for it? Are you willing to sacrifice for it? Or do you want to go it alone? Or are you too busy to do what it takes? Do you really want it? Then go about doing it-quit talking and start doing it.
We have had and do have that community with a group of our dearest friends. Even when we have each gone our separate ways for various things, all it takes is a few minutes, and that community is there again, just like that. It doesn’t matter how long it has been, it’s there. Kelly and one of the gals have had some “discussions” that would have destroyed just about anyone else’s friendship, but not them. In the middle of one of them we went to their house for supper and laughed for hours like nothing was going on. It’s hard for people to understand. Why? Because of community. Community is time with each other, talking, laughing, living. It is calling each other to the mat on areas in our lives that we’d rather ignore or keep hush-hush. It is being a family. Family with a common bond. You can have great friendships with non-believers and you should, but there is just something about the spiritual bond of believers in Christ, being in community.

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