The biblical value of community sometimes feels like eating Jello with a fork. I think I get bits of what it tastes like, but I leave a lot on the plate. Relationally, people try to do community and get it wrong. We try to encourage and it sounds canned. We try to hold someone accountable and it comes out condemning or condescending. We want to really be there for one another and we over do it. For a church that values community, that can get really frustrating; it often feels like three steps forward and two steps back.
So, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.
My thinking led me to Jesus and His experience with community. If anyone could create a gospel community on mission, it would be Jesus. As I focused on Jesus’ experience, I started to feel more encouraged. Follow me here…
- He had to talk some of them into joining His group.
- They misunderstood Him more often than they understood Him..
- Some left the group.
- Peter—poor Peter—tries to “hold Jesus accountable” and gets called “Satan.”
- Thomas—the doubting one—has to be convinced of everything.
- Then, there’s Judas—part of His close-knit gospel community—who betrays Him (and the rest of the group) with a kiss.
I guess when I think about Jesus’ experience of community, I can relax even though my experience is not always the A+ work I’m going for.
Community is tough in any culture, but a culture like ours that drives us toward independence and isolation makes biblical community incredibly elusive. It takes time—both quantity and quality. It takes emotional investment. It means I will be uncomfortable. But even with all that, I know that biblical community is better than an unbiblical isolation.
So, let’s be those who give it a go. Let’s follow Jesus on this quest for biblical community. Let’s join Jesus in groups that will not be perfect, filled with people like us. Let’s reflect the love of Jesus by washing the feet of those who might betray us. Let’s endure when people get it wrong and rejoice when we get Jello shrapnel in our mouths. And maybe once in a while, we’ll get more than we ever hoped or dreamed.