Kathleen at “Church in a Circle” has written a great post called “Community is irresistible.” The post is not very long, so I would encourage you to read it now. (And, as far as I can tell, she actually spells all of the words correctly, which is amazing for an Aussie.)
Kathleen begins her post lamenting the lack of community among the church and the wider society today. Even though we were designed for community, we seldom find it today. As she said, “Facebook is as good as it gets for many people.”
But, what can we do? She answers that question like this:
He [God] invites us to live side by side as a family, meeting each other’s needs through the seasons of life. If we are going to tap into the full potential for the church to shine in the darkness of this disconnected, dysfunctional world, we need to start meeting face-to-face, engaging in a two-way conversation, growing in strong relationships with each other and accepting one another as Jesus accepted each of us.
We were not designed to be fellow-attenders; we were designed to be family. We were not designed to live disconnected lives; we were designed to share our lives with one another.
But, today – at least in my “neck of the woods” – this kind of community is very unnatural. It was quite natural only a few years ago (as in a couple of generations ago), and it mostly centered on extended family and neighbors who lived close to one another for many, many years.
So, what do we do? Exactly what Kathleen says above. We must intentionally invite people into our lives, and we must intentionally be interested in other people when they are willing to share their lives with us. We must be patient… and wait… and wait… and wait more… trusting that God will bind our hearts and lives together. And, while we are waiting, we must continuously and consistently have interactions with one another like Kathleen describes above: “meeting face-to-face, engaging in a two-way conversation, growing in strong relationships with each other and accepting one another as Jesus accepted each of us.”
We can’t sit alone in our living rooms and expect community to suddenly spring up out of nothing.
We will have to beging by being acquaintances and listening to others around us. When the time is right, we’ll be invited and even encouraged to speak into their lives – when we show that we care and that we can be trusted. But, again, that will only happen when we are intentional to offer our time and energy and lives to others… and allow them to accept as much or as little as they will.
As I said above, and as I’ve written previously, community is unnatural today. But, when we are living super-natural lives and intentionally giving God opportunities to bind our lives with others (or, as another blogger wrote recently, “entangling our lives together”) then we will find God building community in our midst – a community based on Jesus Christ.