Dietrich Bonhoeffer put some thoughts about community into his book, Life Together. It is an extraordinary treatise on how he believes the Christian community should function properly. The thing that strikes me, repeatedly, while reading this book is the intertwining of our lives with our brothers and sisters.
I’ve maintained for some time now, that as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to bring our A-game to whatever it is we have been called. This includes our time at church or in church community. To simply attend with the attitude that, “I’ll be given what I need today,” is to totally subvert the glorious purpose of coming together in the first place! The Spirit works through each and everyone of us, towards His own end, but with our individual and unique gift set. If we simply show up on a Sunday and sit like a bump on a log, how are we allowing the Spirit to minister to those in our community?
For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ. I John 2:27
And then there’s the whole argument for doing your best with what God has given you…
The height of narcissism is when we come into community expecting others to take care of us. Or, put another way, when we show up and think that we have nothing to offer the community, we are only focused on ourselves. Yet God is glorified through our weakness. From personal experience, He does tremendous things through my life when I am shattered and can no longer pull myself up by my bootstraps.
A recent example hammered home just how important being in community can be for those around us. I have been working through and wrestling with the freewill/predestination tension. A particularly sage individual described God’s will thusly:
Imagine a football field. There are two sidelines and two goals. Consider the sidelines “illegal” and “immoral.” Consider the goal lines your “passions” and “gifts/talents.” As long as you remain in bounds, heading towards one of the goal lines, you are within God’s will for your life.
The analogy falters if we hold too tightly to it, but it works for my pea-brain. I get that analogy! As long as my choices remain within the field of play, I am within His will for my life.
A short while ago, I shared this analogy and my wrestling with this issue with some friends. This past weekend, the sermon was on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 where Solomon points out there is a time or season for everything and that God has ordained it all. As the service was ending, I was approached by my friends, with eyes huge, exclaiming that the football field analogy just became that much clearer to them.
Contrary to the existence of this blog, I do not think that I am adding much to most conversations. However, I was blown away that my friend’s understanding of the sermon was enriched/enhanced by something that I simply remembered to pass along.
The height of narcissism is when we come into community expecting others to take care of us.
And that’s the point…
When we come to community our focus needs to NOT be on ourselves. You see, our accountability, in part, comes from moving as the Spirit guides us. Those members of community that know us best can see when we are not moving as the Spirit prompts us. This is one benefit of being in community: an automatic level of accountability is introduced. Of course, many of us are scared of community because there is accountability.
I mean, it can hurt when someone you respect and have begun to reveal yourself to points out a shortcoming you have. Community requires a level of humility that is unnecessary when you are “the lone ranger.”
What does accountability via community look like for you? Or, perhaps even more simply, where is the accountability in your life?