NO ONE-WAY STREET | APRIL 28, 2005
I have read umpteen books on small groups that begin to all converge together in one big mush in my brain. I keep coming back to the same things about how hard real community is to maintain. It takes real sweat and commitment and a certain degree of skill. But, most of all, it takes the reality of Christ to be lived out through us. Community is something that cannot be forced. Community is a two-way street. So when I read the below article a pastor friend of mine wrote, I couldn't help but shout "Amen." I pass it along to you in the hopes that the embers will be fanned and we all might yearn for and take part in authentic community.
"We are alone. We feel it. The universe is big and we are small. Sin has caused this 'aloneness.' We try to relate to others, but that doesn't seem to satisfy us. We get disappointed when others don't act like God (and meet all the needs that we demand they meet) or when others don't treat us like God (with the accompanying worship and praise that is due us). The truth is that we don't get the community thing. We like the word. We revel in the concept. Community sounds really good. But it seems to elude us. We need a new grid that is not centered on our felt need for 'community.'
Community began in eternity past. God, who has always existed, has always existed in community: Father, Son and Spirit. The Godhead models what community is: equality accompanied with submission: Being unified along with being different. God is the ground and starting place for community.
Community is experiencing Christ through one another.
Community is knowing and being known, serving and being served, celebrating and being celebrated. Community is hanging out with Christian friends and laughing about stupid things. Community is gradually opening up our true selves to people and letting them see who we really are. Community is telling each other the truth in love.
Community is not just being 'nice.'
True community involves being in a bad mood and still being pleasant to others. Community means asking for help. To be in community means to be in need. To feel other peoples' pain, that's community. To think more about what others need, that's community.
Community involves crying and looking foolish in front of others. To be in community means to be uncomfortable at times. Community involves risking our image.
Community is not just eating together. Community is not seeing people at church. Community is not saying, "Fine" when asked how you are doing. To be in community involves using your phone a lot.
To experience community is to arrange one's life in such a way that fellow members of the church are seen not as a burden to deal with, but friends with which to do life.
Community is seeing church as a family to belong to, not a service to go to. Community involves simplifying one's lifestyle in order to welcome others.
Community means sacrificing time and money for those who need either. To listen more than you talk is community. To work out all conflicts and never hold grudges is community. Community is the way of Jesus who related to and lived with twelve very imperfect men when He could have accomplished His mission and lived His life without them. Jesus showed us how to do community by who He was and how He lived."
-- Kevin Short, Senior Pastor