I recently read an excellent piece on community or to be precise genuine Christian community on the blog here in the after. It resonated with me deeply, so I felt I should write my own thoughts on the subject and my search for it. It won’t be as in depth or as beautifully eloquent but it will be at least my own exploration & if you’re used to reading my writings at all you’ll now that exploring what is going on inside of me is what this blog is all about.
I looked up the definition & these were what sprang to my attention:
Community; a unified body of individuals; an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location.
The community of Christ is way more than just going to church with people. It is more than just friendships. It is a deep connection with true believers the world over. It is true friendships, real deep trusting relationships. My pastor talks about the different levels of relationships, level one being your typical cowboys & the weather relationship. I am a master of this kind of relationship. The opposite end of the spectrum, the level 10 relationship is complete trust, complete honesty, no secrets, a friend that knows not only the best of you but the absolute worst of you & they still love you, they are still proud to call you a friend, they love you like Jesus does. With the exception of my marriage I have been an abject failure at these types of relationships. Although my marriage is certainly the best place to start!
There are many reasons for my failings with relationships of depth but I won’t go into them here. Let’s just say I am in recovery, it starts with healing, it continues with awakening & over time the transformation while you don’t see it happening, it’s like a butterfly coming from a caterpillar.
A couple of years ago frustrated at the lack of Christian men in my life I prayed for God to bring me a friend, just 1. Later that year my church started a new men’s ministry, I got involved, volunteered to be a table lead in the small group I joined, completely out of my comfort zone but I did anyway. What came from that was not 1 friend, but 10s of friends and a few of those friends who going by the scale I’m probably already at a 5 with. It is not easy, it takes effort & commitment, but what good thing doesn’t. All I know is that I feel alive when I drag myself out of bed early on a Saturday to hang out with my band of brothers so learn of the ways God wants to transform us. I feel even more alive when we go out & serve together, those are special times for me.
For me, a true Christian community is a bunch of people walking in the freedom of these level 10 relationships & taking that into the world & making a difference in the name of Jesus. Feeding the poor, helping the hurting & broken, not bible pounding, but being Jesus with skin on, making a difference & shining his light in the world for his glory. That to me is community & when the community of Christ lives like this, not only is it a beautiful thing, but the world notices. They notice, sadly they do not recognize it as normal behavior for the 21st century church, but hopefully my generation & those coming after us can work to change that.
Ultimately for me this journey of self-improvement, as much as it is about discovering who I truly am, it is about being a better member of the community of Christ. If I am seeking self-improvement simply for myself, it is empty, it is meaningless to me. Sure I might be a better person, I might find more enjoyment out of life but I would fall back into the old struggle of what is the point in life. I feel most alive when I am in a community of believers, that is my place in life, I don’t know if it is a calling, but it is certainly my place & I thank Jesus for that & that he didn’t wait any longer than he did to call me into it.
Of course community is not just a Jesus thing, its better with him, but almost everything in life is better when shared. Music is wonderful by yourself, but it is a powerful experience when shared. The same with sports, food, movies you name it & I bet it is better with a friend.
So did I just write about community or relationships? Not sure, for me I think to sum it up I believe an effective community is a collection of deep and healthy relationships.
I had the thought today about how many people who attend church are not in community, how the lack or deep relationships is strangling the church. Thoughts came to me about things to write, like elevator music Christianity, which I only say because I think it’s an awesome line. If I am honest though, my heart brakes for those not in real community. I pray for an awakening in their lives, because if they know it is real, if they know it is possible, how could they not want it & strive for it? Sure everyone is different, but everyone deep down craves acceptance & love. So I guess the main thing for those of us in real community, especially those who have been in it for a while (I’m getting there) is to make sure to share it. It has to be an open door thing, God’s love doesn’t max out , you love these people with God’s love, so just keep loving & enjoy the ride. Live like Jesus, he hid nothing & loved everyone, it’s impossible for me, but for Him through me, He can do it.
Side note, I love this song, it speaks to where I am at right now so much.
He is spring time, He makes all things new