The Importance of Being in a Community:
It is easy to assume that Christianity boils down to making it to church on Sunday, being part of a weekly Bible study, and helping old ladies across the street. The way we parade our successes and mourn our shortcomings, it can be seen as though all we need to do to be a good Christian (a term I use very sarcastically) is to not do the wrong things and make sure we do the right things from time to time. The church emphasizes the need to be at this place at this time, read this book series, do that topical study, etc. However, in all the rushing around, we never stop to think about the importance of the community. And by community, I don’t mean that you meet at this place at this time, etc. I mean, true, authentic community. A community that knows you intimately and influences who you are as a person.
As the old adage goes, “If you all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” In all honesty, many of us would. Why? Because we are human. That’s what we do. It is widely accepted, even by experts, that who you choose to hang out with will have an impact on who you are as a person (For one example of this, this is an interesting source http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/abn/67/3/274/). If this is the case, why are we not talking about it as a church? Why is this not the foundation of our institution? We could speculate all day as to the variety of reasons a church would neglect such a simple scriptural mandate, but I would argue that at the heart of it lies the fact that we live in a corporately driven society. Unfortunately, due to its success in the secular world, the church has adopted the corporate business model for its own use. And in churches whose organizational models are derivatives of secular business models, the short answer as to why we aren’t talking about the need for community is simply that you can’t corporately organize authentic friendship.
But why is friendship so important for the Christian walk? Well, for one, who you choose to associate with regularly will have an impact on who you are as a person. It will also determine who you are able to be yourself around. If you are able to reveal who you truly are to your community of believers, it will go a long way toward providing you with a solid foundation and support structure as you grow in your walk. Secondly, as stated before, it is a scriptural mandate. We are told to “not forsake the gathering of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV), we are told to “build each other up" in love (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV), we are instructed to commune and grow one another “as iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV), but these are not things that can be done according to corporate guidelines, these must be done in the context of true, authentic friendship. When people are truly transparent that is when they can properly enter into discipleship with another.
What if, instead of orchestrating friendship, we learned to share each others lives? What if, instead of investing in our own interests, we invest in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ? What if we stopped programming everything and started truly living out our discipleship in the quiet moments spent with broken friends, wary friends, persistent friends? What would the church look like then?
Keep the faith,
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