Two years ago, I wrote a post called “Always Living but Never Arriving.” When we think about community – even community in Christ – we should not think of it as something that we finally arrive at. Instead, it’s something that we always live… even in our imperfection. In fact, it’s living through the imperfections that we find deeper community in Christ. Unfortunately, many are looking for instant community or a completed community… and they won’t find it.
Recently, while reading Lionel’s post “Pros and Cons of ‘Organic’ Church Meeting: Part 1 Cons,” I began thinking about living in community with others. You see, the thing about community is that we never “arrive.” At least, our community never becomes a perfect group of perfect people. There are always struggles.
Of course, this seems obvious, doesn’t it. But, it is always somewhat counter-intuitive. We get the feeling that if we put enough time into this thing we call community – if we live with one another like family for long enough – then life together will become easy.
In truth, we will always struggle with one another, primarily because we will always struggle with sin. I mean, think about it, even if I manage to go a day living in perfect harmony with God and others, chances are that others will not live perfect lives that day. And, on days when everyone else is living completely in obedience to God, I’m the one who has problems.
You see, we need one another, but the fact that we live together means that we will constantly struggle with one another, both because of our own sinfulness and self-centeredness, and also because of the sin and selfishness of others.
If we come together with one another with the false assumption that one day we will have perfect community, then we will be in for a rude awakening. As people change – their life circumstances – so will our community. As people move into or out of the area, our community will change. As children are born or parents die, the community will be different. There will constantly be new challenges and struggles.
So, we don’t live for that day when our community finally “makes it.” No, we live for today. We share today with one another. When someone fails, we forgive them. When we fail we ask for forgiveness. But, we keep living together, trusting in the presence and grace of God to bring us closer to one another and to him.
We must stop looking forward to that time when we can finally live in community. Instead, we must decide whether or not we’re going to share our lives with someone else today. If we choose to share our life with someone today, it won’t be perfect, but it will be a step toward more fellowship with one another – which, in John’s words, is more fellowship with the Father and with his son, Jesus Christ.