Before I go any further, you should know that this post is in no way related to High School Musical. Which has to be a good thing. Whilst I’m sure that HSM is wonderful, doesn’t it strike anyone else as slightly weird that they break out in song in the middle of conversation? Try it next time you’re having a chat with someone – awkward. So, all to say, there will be no more talk of HSM (in this post at least – who knows what the future holds).
There’s something I’ve been wondering and pondering about for a while now, exploring with a few friends of mine and, I hope, learning to live out. This thing is central to how Jesus lived. This thing is really really important. This thing is part of the call on the Church and, I growing to be convinced, it’s a central call on everyone who follows Jesus.
This thing is, simply, community.
[Is that what you were expecting?!]
Community: A social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. (The dictionary version).
Wow. Is that it? To be honest, that makes it sound pretty, well, tedious… we live in the same area, have the same people who govern and share a bit of history. Sounds like a rubbish community. Where’s all the stuff about doing life together?!
Community is SO MUCH more than described above. Yet it feels like that’s all we anticipate of community. But the bible paints a far greater, more exciting, more challenging and deeper picture of community. Community seems to be right at the heart of the bible and the gospel.
Firstly, God is in community (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Perfect relationship, perfect community, modelled by the creator. There must be something in it.
Then, Jesus lived in community – he had the 12 disciples, and 3 close mates within that. He also had a group of at least 72 others. He travelled with them, had a communal pot of money, ate with them, challenged them, loved them – they all did life together. It wasn’t just a bunch of friends, it was deeper than that. Jesus didn’t do his ministry alone, He did it in community.
Thus, because of the example Jesus gave, community was right at the heart of the early church. Rich and poor became one. Slave and free. All equal, all contributing whatever they could, all part of something far bigger than themselves. All part of a loving, challenging community where people could be discipled and loved. People were introduced to Jesus through community – not everyone “converting” individuals on their own but all together introducing others to Jesus. (Sounds MUCH easier doesn’t it…!)
Now the funny thing about my love of community is that I particularly love time on my own. I love the space of being quiet and still. I love having room to think and work life out a little bit without other people around. But, also, I love people and family and dinners together. I love noise and mess and laughter. The truth of community is that I wouldn’t be the person I am, without those people around me.
I love the challenge of people knowing me inside out.
My faults and frailties. My strengths and gifts. My hopes and dreams.
The reality is that only people who truly know me will truly love me.
It is the people who know me best and see me at my very worst who are the people who really accept and love me. The veneer of “I’m great thanks” that is painted to most people is removed and they see me for who I really am. Broken, longing, hurting, hoping, faulted…yet STILL love me. THAT is picture of God’s love. THAT makes me want to know and be known. To love and be loved.
Community is far more than just a group of people who live in the same area. It’s people who do life together, who know each other and who are for each other. It’s an adventure that we’re all welcomed in to and it’s really flipping hard sometimes. But more than worth the cost.
Community is how we’re meant to do life. It’s how we’re meant to introduce people to Jesus. It’s how we’re meant to serve those around us. Not on our own, but all of us, together. Because, ultimately, we’re family whether we like it or not.
As a side note, we will probably look at this loads more. These are just a few bumbled thoughts and musings. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of this.
Thanks for reading,
Soul Action Project Manager