Tuesday, June 3, 2014
A Case for Living in Community
My definition of community is slightly different from most of the definitions I can find from dictionaries. Most of them define community either by a group of people with common interests, or a group of people living in a certain area. I think both of those can be aspects of community, but to me community is broader then geographic location or personal interests/ preferences. To me, community is a group of people united together, committed to each other, looking to and caring for each others interests.
Since Jeremy and I have been married we have always been a part of a community group. Each of these groups have been associated with one church or another and have all been pretty similar in format or structure. Each group had it's own unique strengths and opportunities for improvement. Each group has been special to me and shaped me in different ways.
Lately it has been standing out to me that there are so many people that are not part of a church for various reasons (not having religious beliefs, not finding a place that aligns with their beliefs, and more...). Although these people aren't a part of church (maybe for this season, or maybe never have been or will be) I am hearing a very common desire from them. Most people, regardless of religious affiliation (or lack thereof) seem to have a desire for community, as I defined it above. They seem to have a desire to have a group of people whom they see regularly, who know each other, who enjoy doing fun things together, who help each other out when needed, to celebrate accomplishments with, discuss ideas with and more.
I believe that this is not an accident. That each and every person was created in the image of a relational, 3 beings in 1, God. I believe that one of the greatest truths about God is that He is to the core a relational being. And since we humans were created in His image, we are to our core relational beings also. We were each created to be in relationship with God, and to be in relationship with others, and if those 2 purposes are not met, we will feel a longing deep within our soul that we are missing out on part of our intended purpose.
At a time when our culture is getting exceedingly further away from living in community with others we as a people are crying out and longing to live our lives inter-twined with others. This is becoming counter-cultural due to the growing individualistic nature of our society. Conversation, a key ingredient to living in community, is becoming a lost art in a culture of being busy, of emails, text messages and social media. People are not connecting like they used to, like they were created to.
Living in community can be messy. People can make mistakes, hurt each other, have miscommunications and so on. But this is where the real beauty is found. The beauty of real love... 1 Corinthians 13 love... "God is love" love... selfless love, forgiveness and grace. This is worth fighting for. Worth putting ourselves out there for. Worth extending and receiving grace and forgiveness for... in our mistakes, and in the mistakes of others. Worth sticking it out through the ups and downs, twists and turns, good times and bad. This type of love is what life is all about. It's the greatest truth there is. We were made to love, worship, enjoy and relate with God, and part of how we do that is by loving, enjoying, and relating with others.