the weblog of Alan Knox

How are you? Fine, and you? Fine.

Posted by on Apr 25, 2012 in blog links, community | 12 comments

How are you? Fine, and you? Fine.

Bobby at “Deconstructing Neverland” has written a very good post called “You Don’t Know Jack.” The point of his post is that we often recognize (through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) our need for relationships with others, especially others who are in Christ. However, in a desire to create those relationships, we often end up with something much less.

In fact, often when we create things to “build community,” we build a semblance of community that simply hides our lack of real community in Christ.

For example, Bobby writes:

That is precisely the dilemma one faces as they venture out in search for community in church life. Anyone who has Christ in them has this intrinsic desire for deep fellowship and community with other believers. It’s evident by the programs and meetings we plan and put together. There are community groups built around all sorts of interests and needs. People get together for bible studies, accountability, addiction recovery, marital status, and many other commonalities. I’ve been a part of each of these types of groups. The problem is that these groups do not form lasting communities, at least not in my experience…

We don’t know how to be transparent and honest with one another. What we know is what we’ve been trained for. We know how to hide our struggles and put on a happy face. We like our shallow conversations.

Shallow conversations are comfortable and safe. They can make us feel good about ourselves and others. We can pat each other on the back and call ourselves “community.”

But, when it comes down to it, we all recognize the difference. (And, by the way, those outside the church recognize the shallow relationships among Christians also.)

Community – even shared lives in Jesus Christ – takes time. It takes time because we must move beyond the shallow conversations: “How are you?” “Fine. And you?” “Fine.” We must be willing to ask each other difficult questions and share the “trash” (as Bobby calls it) from our own lives. And this is extremely important – we MUST offer each other the same grace that God has offered us in Jesus Christ.

Read Bobby’s post and then consider the question that he asked: “What are you going to do about it?”


12 Comments

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  1. 4-25-2012

    Oh, you are speaking my language!!!

    I started my blog around this concept, and am considering writing a book based on this travesty in the church esp. as it relates to women.

    It DOES take time, and it’s not always pretty. It’s much easier to talk “at” each other than “to” each other.

    I would offer that when we hide our problems from each other, it’s b/c we’ve built fences around God, and ourselves. We don’t really know the guy on the inside (or at least we’re not listening to him) b/c HE would say: “Come to me, ye who are heavy-laden….I will give you rest.” NOT: “Leave the bags at the door.”

    Thanks for inspiring me to finally get around to figuring this out today.

  2. 4-25-2012

    Good post Alan. This is so true. My sermon for Sunday is based out of John 13:34-35. It will run the line very close to this post. We are to love one another “just as” Jesus loved us and “by this” the world will know that we are His disciples. Thanks for the post.

  3. 4-25-2012

    This line of yours: “(And, by the way, those outside the church recognize the shallow relationships among Christians also.)”

    ….really hitting home with me today.

  4. 4-25-2012

    Angie,

    Thanks for the comments and the retweets. I loved reading your thoughts, even though I haven’t seen that movie yet.

    Ron,

    It will be interesting to see how people respond. I know in the past it’s easier to hear a message like this, feel bad (but also feel like you’ve done something), and go on with your life. It’s harder to actually respond by opening your life to others.

    -Alan

  5. 4-25-2012

    Being married to a recovering person, I sometimes go to 12-step meetings with her. Even though most of these meetings are not spiritual in a biblical sense, there’s one thing I like about: open, honest sharing of one’s personal struggles with temptation. Nobody looks down on anyone else for what they share, because everyone else is in a similar boat. Everyone is vulnerable. And because of this, each one supports the other.

    This is something the church has lost, but it’s what Christian community is supposed to be about: sharing our struggles with sin, and sharing the solution we’ve found in Christ. How can we foster an atmosphere where people can share their weaknesses and failings without fear of reproach or ridicule? Perhaps only when leaders take the lead in confessing person sin.

  6. 4-26-2012

    we MUST offer each other the same grace that God has offered us in Jesus Christ.
    Alan to begin with here, you see the (MUST). Everyone that reads Must, have to, are commanded, puts the believer back under the law. Out of one mouth we say we are no longer under the law, and then we say we must, we have to, we are commanded to. We put ourselves back under the law, and sin takes occasion by the commandment. The power of sin is in the law. We are free in Christ we have the law of liberty, We do because God asked, we love because God first loved us,
    The things I wrote here is why the church is so messed up, they are trying to mix law and grace. Law and grace cannnot mix like water and oil can’t
    One needs to get out from underneath the laws(s) and move onto to relationship with God, and all LOVE flows out from God himself through the holy ghost

  7. 4-26-2012

    Andrew said

    This is something the church has lost, but it’s what Christian community is supposed to be about: sharing our struggles with sin, and sharing the solution we’ve found in Christ. How can we foster an atmosphere where people can share their weaknesses and failings without fear of reproach or ridicule? Perhaps only when leaders take the lead in confessing person sin.

    Hi Andrew, I am 28 years dry, I have on my website a blog I titled drinking, maybe there is something there that will help your partner and you, cannot hurt to at least look, thanks Howard

  8. 4-26-2012

    Ron Young says:

    Good post Alan. This is so true. My sermon for Sunday is based out of John 13:34-35. It will run the line very close to this post. We are to love one another “just as” Jesus loved us and “by this” the world will know that we are His disciples. Thanks for the post.

    Hey Ron a tid bit to think about. I have discovered people will only love as much as they believe they are loved. people will only forgive as much as they think (believe) they are forgiven. In the new covenant it is claimed we are completley forgiven and completely loved. So since we have trouble in the church. I think maybe it is something to do with love and forgiveness. In fact that was the case even prior to Christ coming here to redeem this problem. And we are under a new covenant, yet the same old problem still exists. we are just not getting it.
    Howard

  9. 4-26-2012

    Andrew,

    Yes, many followers of Jesus have been taught to accept one another based on certain conditions.

    Howard,

    “Love one another.” “Accept one another as God has accepted you in Jesus Christ.” “Forgive one another.” I suppose those commands (“musts”) also place people under the law? No. Of course, they don’t. Exhorting people to follow “the royal law” is not the same thing as placing them “under the law.” We are not free in Christ to do whatever we please. We are free in Christ to do whatever God pleases for us to do. That includes living in a manner worthy of the gospel, which includes offering grace to one another. Are we still in Christ if we don’t do that? Of course. But, we are not living in the freedom of Christ. So, yes, I stand by my statement: We MUST offer each other the grace that God has offered us in Jesus Christ. If we are not, then we are not living in a manner worthy of Christ, even if we are in Christ.

    -Alan

  10. 4-26-2012

    Angie said
    I would offer that when we hide our problems from each other, it’s b/c we’ve built fences around God, and ourselves. We don’t really know the guy on the inside (or at least we’re not listening to him) b/c HE would say: “Come to me, ye who are heavy-laden….I will give you rest.” NOT: “Leave the bags at the door.”

    Yes Angie it is true, people are afraid of being hurt, and hiding like Adam and Eve did. Peoople want to look good in front of others and the powers of the air, the Spirit of error is loving it.
    Okay I have been angry, I have lusted, I have stolen, I have lied, and the list goes on. Do I do any of those things today? At this moment no, could I? YES Will I? now that depends if I get caught back up under the law or not. when I get caught up back under the law, lust for me takes control and this gets worse when I start to think about it (entertain it) whether I wish to do it or not it takes place, therefore I declare it is not I who sin it is sin that dwells in my flesh, so I therefore serve the law of sin and death with my flesh, and I serve the law of God with the inward man that God through belief planted in me ( The Holy Spirit of truth). So whom shall I desire to serve my own way of thinking or take no thought as Jesus said and thus by taking no thought of the lustful thought, all thoughts immediately become captive to the obedience of Christ
    I wrote on thought in my blog check it out
    Howard

  11. 4-26-2012

    Alan, i love you, and I consider you as my brother in christ. But I exhort you to understand what keeps you, and many others in their Sins behind closed doors as you have so galliantly stated. Come on Alan you as well brother have your hidden agenda behind closed doors. And all sin takes ocassin by the commandment period. the power of sin is in the law, and being freed from the law its curse when we try to do it. we are freed to love as God has Loved, and we will only love as much as God has loved us.
    Again brother I love you this much to set you free to be able to go anywhere like a butterfly does after that old worm was born again.
    the butterfly will never be a worm again. Perfect Love casts out all fear, and you are made right and able to do what god has called you to do. It is the sick that need a doctor and the trinity is the remedy.
    Again we are free to go. All things are permissable, you decide what is beneficial. The flesh or the spirit of truth. I have picked the Spirit of truth
    Thanks Howard

  12. 4-26-2012

    Howard,

    I love you too. You do not have to set me free, because Jesus Christ has already set me free. The things that you write here are often contrary to what Peter, James, John, Paul, and others wrote in the New Testament.

    Why did almost every author of the New Testament command their readers, “Love one another!”? If the Spirit of God was producing that love in them, why would the authors need to command it?

    -Alan