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Replay: Community is Always Living but Never Arriving

Posted by on Sep 22, 2012 in community | 10 comments

Replay: Community is Always Living but Never Arriving

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.

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Always Living but Never Arriving

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.


10 Comments

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  1. 9-22-2012

    Excellent post and so true. I felt the Lord speak to me awhile back that committing ourselves to an expression of the ekklesia that is according to God’s revealed desire is committing ourselves to a process, not a product. The process is that of seeking to live out together the “greatest commandment”, to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and also the “new commandment” to love one another as Christ loved us. This is a life-long, never-arriving process that is continually in flux as to its fulfillment. It was a radical shift for me when I realized that I had to make a transition from seeing the church as a product to that of a process.

    This post really resonated with me. Thanks, Alan!

  2. 9-22-2012

    David,

    Thanks for the comment! That’s an excellent additional to the post. I like the idea of thinking of community as a process. There will be ups and downs – positives and negatives – growths and apparent regressions. But, can we stick together and share our lives in Christ in the good times as well as the bad times? If so, we will find our relationships in Christ deepening, and our community in Christ will be noticeable.

    -Alan

  3. 9-22-2012

    I just realized after reading your post that I have been looking for instant community. From now on I am going to live each day as Always Living but Never Arriving. The last 2 paragraphs really spoke to me! Thanks for sharing!

  4. 9-22-2012

    Patricia,

    Thank you very much for sharing that! I’ve found myself looking for instant community as well. I hope you come back and share how things change with this new outlook and perspective on community in Christ.

    -Alan

  5. 9-22-2012

    YES!!!!! Thank you for this great reminder. So true!!! Just like our spiritual life in general… we must stop dwelling in the past (dwelling on mistakes or mourning over what could have been), worrying about the future (and what you want different, how it can be better) and instead embrace the NOW and don’t miss out on the adventure of journeying with Him (and each other) right now!

  6. 9-22-2012

    Let go (of the expectations, control, worry, fear) —– enjoy the adventure!

  7. 9-22-2012

    Randi,

    I like the way that you put that, especially the part about embracing the now (and embracing one another in the now). That is truly our adventure with one another in Christ.

    -Alan

  8. 9-23-2012

    I agree that community begins with the intention of giving yourself, rather than seeking perfection from others. It seems “Christian community” has become an idealized monster that prevents many from embracing the community of now.

  9. 9-24-2012

    Krista,

    Yes, “idealism” and perfectionism can be a huge problem, especially when we bring our expectations into play instead of sharing our lives with people (just as we are and just as they are).

    -Alan

  10. 9-24-2012

    well put Krista!!