Thursday, March 28, 2013


I believe, like most things, our best intentions can become idols.

Somehow it seems to me that we have come to a place in the American church that once we affix the correct adjectives to an idol we are satisfied to be fooled into believing it is a valid pursuit. But an idol is an idol. Putting the 'right' language around it is just like dressing pigs up in fine silk. It doesn't change what is underneath the polished veneer.

That said, I fear 'community' has become idolized. Questions have surfaced in my heart and mind around the importance of it, the definition of it, and the overall place it does or does not have in my life, as I have heard it defined and referenced in the Evangelical church scene. Community captures the essence of our innate need to interact with other people, not only for our own growth and edification, but also to give something of our lives as an offering to be used and utilized. It is magnificent, and has the ability to create a 'thin space', where as mere humans we see a glimpse into what Heaven must be like. However, I can't help but wonder if it is just one more thing that, while in it's essence is beautiful and pure, has been put on a pedestal, so in prideful pomp we wear it around as a shiny religious medal.

I've been trying to reconcile this, and then yesterday afternoon, I had numerous interactions that might have looked random to the anonymous observer, but after each one there was left a sweetness in my soul. A gentle reassuring whisper seemed to say, "that's what I meant by 'love your neighbor'." 

  • The barista at my favorite coffee shop has become a genuine friend, with whom I get to celebrate the purchase of his first home. He shared with me the landscaping projects he has planned and the fact that he's within a few weeks of moving in.
  • I noticed a new hair cut on an employee of my favorite resale store. As I mentioned it, her face lit up, and she told me all about the experience. Then we stood there laughing about bad hair cuts and swapping advice about what product is best to use on pixie styles. 
  •  One of my neighbors happens to also work at an outdoor store I frequently visit. So instead of just a trip to get a new pair of swimming goggles, I was welcomed with a huge smile and warm hug. And then I learned more about my neighbor and his life growing up in South America and the swim team he was a part of.
  • I only know him in the context of his place of employment, but yesterday I was able to be the anonymous listening ear he needed as a form of 'cheap therapy,' as he called it. All I did was ask how he had been, and I learned his father recently passed away and how hard that has been because they were so close, and how work is helping to keep his mind off of it for right now. 
  • A friend came over to drop off some excess eggs from his son's chickens, but ended up sharing some very exciting news with my husband and I, instead of just the 'drop and run' he said it would be.

The whisper in my soul is helping me to recognize this as my community.  These authentic, organic, every day exchanges of joy, love and compassion. And what if that is what the whole thing is about? The 'worry' might be that these are all surface level interactions, never really challenging or growing me. But what if these conversations did just that? What if these different lifestyles and belief systems (represented in each of these individuals), challenged my prejudices, increased my capacity to love, and prompted me outside of my comfort zone? Wouldn't that be just as beneficial as a structured, predetermined, 'programed' community?

I would argue that it is even better. Even more fulfilling of the call on my life as a follower of Christ, to be light to the world. 

No comments:

Post a Comment