Sunday, September 25, 2005

10. Community. "There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community." This quote from M. Scott Peck is one of the many nuggets of wisdom from him about community. I can remember the day I first made the connection with the root word of community. "Commune." This led me to think of "Communism." This launched me on all kinds of rabbit trails about community. Then there was the connection between "community" and "communion." Like, communion on Sunday morning. You know, the Lords Supper.

We all crave community. A place to be vulnerable and accepted at the same time. An environment where our transparency will will not be trampled on. The beautiful thing about community is that it is one of the closest things to the nature of God. The tri-unity. The sweet fellowship between the Father, Son, Holy Spirit is the model of community for us.

Communities exist all around us. The paintball community, the Jazz Festival community, the work community, the remote control car community. People gravitate towards it. Granted, some forms of community we are coerced into through forced interaction.

So what makes the community of God different? Well, that is a real sermon starter. Here are two thoughts.

The birth and shape of our identity finds its origins in the work of Christ. The Master Story, as Michael Gorman would put it, is the community creating event, festival, attraction, commonality and core experience that brings us into community with eachother. I think this may be what Paul was getting at in Galatians 3:26-29. Baptism is the foundational, common experience in this Master Story that places us into community with each other. We all went through a con-formity to the Christ Event. This is the center of gravity for us. The Good News is what draws us to eachother.

The nature of our community makes us different. Because it is tethered and rooted in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, our norms, boundaries, purpose and standards of interaction spring from a deeper value system than our latest personal interest or hobby. The community of God is not borne out of our fleshly desires. It does not originate from our idiosyncratic preferences of entertainment. We are called to emulate and model the character and nature of a crucified Messiah with in a community. This is where the American, individualistic culture has surfaced in our midst. Our discipleship is not to be lived out strictly within the confines of our "quiet time" or personal good works. Our "private" approach to God is merely a reflection of our current cultural norms. The biblical context for discipleship is the community of God.

True community comes at a cost. Jesus had to die to create community between the ethnic barriers of Jew and Gentile, between the social stratas of rich and poor, between the traditional roles of men and women. Colossians 2 Ephesians 2.

It is no less with us. No quick solutions. No easy pathways to authentic community.

Community is fashioned through many variables, but none would disagree that the gateway to community is ............ vulnerability.

A high risk. But a beautiful reward.

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