Sunday, October 17, 2010

Could community be the key to radical?

The thing about community is that it is messy. People have baggage, and issues, and hurts, and pains, and the enemy feeds them lies at every turn they take. And people, in their hurt and brokenness, believe the lies, take them to heart, and live their lives based on them, rather than believing the Truth. You see, the Truth isn't shouted. It is gentle, unassuming, quiet. It removes any pretenses or excuses that we may carry with us. It frees us from all things, coming and going.

And so all of us, in our brokenness and bondage, fear each other. Either we are judging or being judged. Some may lash out to protect, believing that there is no one who will stand up for us. Other may hide away fearing the harshness of others. This is what we bring to relationships with each other, and until we discover the reality of grace, towards ourselves and others, communities remain a very safe arm's length away. We hide behind privacy and space, and personal preference. We gather with for Sunday service, maybe another night in the week for a small group, and then go on about our quiet, broken lives the rest of the week. Community happens on our terms. We choose when we want to engage and when we want to be alone. And many times fear can dictate these terms.

We read the teachings of Jesus to feed the poor, and so we send a check in to United Way.
We read that we are to care for the orphans, and so we send our check to Compassion.
We read that we are to visit the sick care for the widows, so we send our check to the foundation that will do this.

And our hands are clean, untarnished by the filthy reality of this life, not scathed by the broken mess of lives that comprise people in a fragile world so far from its Creator. And we can go on about our pristine lives knowing that we have done our part to make a difference.

But the thing about Jesus, was that He was a man of the people. He was a man of relationships. He was a man who would stand beside the adulteress and speak beautiful truths over her. He was a man who would speak life into the dead man before Him. He was a man who broke bread with the people as He taught of God's love and compassion. He demonstrated the compassion He spoke of. He lived it out. His life was covered in the dirt and filth of those whom He came to save. He walked the road with them.
And it was an outrage to the religious leaders. It was an abomination to be seen with the sinners with whom He dined. It was unspeakable to allow such women to touch Him.

It was completely radical. And those around Him took notice.

He was different and the gospel he taught was different than what the world knew.

He was inconvenienced by their sudden appearances. He was delayed by impromptu conversations. He was held up by the cry of someone's heart. And He was compassionate and ever gracious. He did not judge and held no record of sin.

But instead He scribbled something in the dirt which held the attention of the accusers. His gaze caught theirs as He leveled the field, "Let him without sin cast the first stone."

We are all broken, and we have been called to community, true bleed on each other community.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he has need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Is this not what we have been called to? Is this not the example that was set for us? What the early Church did was completely radical, completely against the culture of their day, completely set apart. They pooled resources for the sake of living the vision set forth in Acts 1:8, the vision set for them by Christ himself, of being His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. They gave all that they had to ensure that those among them had what they needed to do what God had called them to do. And they broke bread together. This is mentioned more than once. Community was done on the terms of the community, not on the terms of the individual, when and where he felt like engaging.

Oh how my heart longs to see this come to fruition in our day, to see lives being saved from the hurt and brokenness of a world that does not know Truth, to see numbers added daily because the Truth of God's love and the demonstration of His people living it out is that compelling. Are we that compelling?

A group that is able to come together and get along? A group of the Christians that are able to come together and get along? Now that will get some attention.

There has to be more....


  1. I agree with you about community. I believe that there actually are followers of Jesus doing this though. For myself I have realized I can be too quick to judge how other followers of Jesus are doing in their sanctification process... I have been so wrong so often... I am not their Lord, and I don't know so many people's stories or their intimate talks with Jesus. Should all of our lives be lived out in exactly the same way? Or might God be calling us all to slightly differnt walks of life? If some Christians suffer more or have to sacrifice more than others, does that mean that those who are suffereing and sacrificing less are not following scripture? Or could it be that Christ has not called each person in the same way? Or are they really all suffering equally, just in totally different ways that our finite minds fail to see? These are some issues I am working through. For someone to sell a field and give to others in need, that means at some point someone has to have more, have the resources to own an extra field. There seems to be at times where someones giving is praised, but the moments before the giving, they are looked down on for having the very things they are able to give! I think part of what should be so compelling about us is that we love each other, whether someone is living in perfect community with other believers or not, that we are STILL loving each other, and through that love compelling EACH OTHER to raise the standard of community. Not just telling each other we suck :). Usually people are, unfortunatley, telling themselves that enough. I loved a sermon recently on "Jesus Plus Nothing". Sometimes, in our desires to see the body of Christ look like it should, we start slowly but surely getting back to judgementalism and living under the law. "You must give this much away" "You must do this, you must do that" "You must give this way, not that way" Etc Etc. What if God specifically has called someone to give to Compassion or United Way? What if that is their first step that God is using to take them to higher ways of giving and serving? It is a scary road to go on if we start deciding what is the right and wrong way to give, serve, love and lead. A thumb and a knee will have very different functions in a body. Just some of my immediate thoughts!! :) Love you Shauna :)

  2. preach it, sister! i kept nodding my head and saying "amen!". since that isn't normally me, i thought i'd share. :)

    i'm experimenting with living in community. i live in a townhouse complex and it's a great place to have community. some of my neighbours are believers, some aren't. i'm enjoying living life with all of them, being real and allowing them into my messy life. although this can be tricky at times, i don't want to go back to living a private life.

    i'm praying for you as you readjust. *hugs*


Thoughts? Feel welcome to share...