It is a very common word in our culture. One that is filled with great hope, but never fulfills its promise. A word with great purpose, and even beautiful expression, but still doesn't quite sum it up. A popular catchphrase that gets thrown around in many different circles, but never completes what we are searching for. I'm talking about community.
The problem with community
Here is a definition of community:
a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals:
Did you catch that? A "feeling" of fellowship. Dang! And what do feelings do? They come and go, just like the wind.
But let me back up a second. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with community. There is a lot of done good in this world via communities coming together. But I fear that we, the church, have come to place our trust in it over Jesus. The word, the idea, of community has become such a catch phrase lately that it makes our ears perk up, and our hearts gravitate towards its warm glowing light. We hold it up on a pedestal and seek it out in our lives. We're told things like "you need to plug in" or "you need to find your community". But that all sounds like a marketing jargon to me.
What's better than community then?
What if there was a better way of living? What if there was a more natural expression of people living together and sharing life? What if it were as easy as giving up trying to find where you fit in and just rest in who you are?
Here is a definition of family:
a person or people related to one another and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy
God has only ever called us in to family. Through the Holy Spirit we have now been adopted in to His family. There no longer exists a "feeling" of fellowship, but now we have true fellowship; both with the maker of Heaven and Earth and with each other. Wow! Is this sinking in? I'm so excited just sitting here punching the keys on my keyboard. It's in this simple revelation of family, that we can move past our feelings and settle in to our sonship. It is in family that we find true purpose for our lives. It is in family that we can rest in who we are and just be ourselves. And it is in family that we see how God loves us.
Compare and Contrast
Community wants to tell us we can all trust each other, but family knows that you have a specific order to the relationships and authority in your life.
Community wants to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but family knows that feelings don't rule our position as sons and daughters.
Community wants to teach us to build bigger and grow larger, but family is all about building each other up because we have great affection one for another