what do you think community looks like? i asked a friend the other day via text message.
his initial response (because, you know, it’s hard to discuss deep matters adequately when you have a 160 character limit) was i’d say it looks like a family.
i would agree with him on this, because i do think there are certainly supposed to be familial interactions in the body of Christ. we are His sons and daughters, after all, and we’re also His bride, so that necessitates a family approach to our relationships with each other. but i think community is more than just family. the early church, after all, lived together and had all their possessions in common. this specific approach isn’t quite practical for the way our society is structured today, but nevertheless i think we need to keep this idea in the front of our minds. when i was thinking about community at four o’clock in the morning (and at odd times afterward, like when i was brushing my teeth) i pictured all the members of the body using the talents and spiritual gifts that God had given them individually to bless, encourage and exhort the body/family as a whole.
now, we do certainly have elements of this going on in our church right now, and we have elements of the family relationship. what i am concerned about, though, is that, no matter how early you come before the service starts or no matter how long you stay afterward, if you only talk to the same people over and over again, you don’t get to know your entire family. granted, there will be some people you’ll always know better than others. but i think that in a church of our size (which is between 100 and 200 people — i’m terrible at estimating things like that), one should at least be able to correctly associate names with faces because it’s simply not that many people to remember. maybe i’m being a bit harsh or judgemental about this, but i think this is important. after all, it’s much more difficult to develop strong relationships with people and recognize needs in their lives if you don’t even know their names.
but once you know a person’s name, you should also be willing to get to know them on more than just a very superficial level. this is something i personally need to grow in. i’ve been making very slow progress, i guess, but God has shown me that i need to be willing to freely love and take an interest in people regardless of what they look like or how they act and if it annoys me or not. if i allow myself to be annoyed by anyone, but especially by one of my brothers or sisters, the root problem is with me, not with them. i need to be willing to die daily and die joyfully. this old ghost of who i used to be has no right to be popping up and pulling the strings to direct me. i need to always remember that “i am crucified in Christ, and it is no longer i who live, but Christ who lives within me. and the life which i now live in the flesh, i live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”
so this prompts another question: does community start on an individual level?