People I Love,
Thank you for your engagement with the teaching from this past Sunday. I continue to have conversations with different people who are processing what it means to be in Community and to that I say, “Keep talking, keep asking and keep leaning further into what God created you for.” I wanted to follow up on two specific things from Sunday.
First, I only said this in the third service but there has been good conversation around it so I wanted to pass it along to everyone. I don’t purposely withhold things from the first two services but when you preach multiple times it comes out in different ways. Anyway, here is what I said and what I want us to think about, “Many, if not most, of the sinful choices we make are rooted in our desire to create community or compensate for the fact that we are not in Community with anyone.” Think about many of the dominant sinful behaviors in our culture today (pornography, sexual immorality, lying, lust, greed, envy) and what you will see is that at the core they are our feeble attempt to create community for ourselves. Because sin is by nature transactional there is never enough left over to warrant our staying so we leave the encounter and are obligated to another transaction somewhere down the line. This introduces us to Cain-like lifestyle where we are left trying to piece together enough transactions to make us feel wanted, loved and accepted but it never seems to work. We are ever seeking but never finding. Over time we give up ever experiencing real Community and we settle into the life of a relational nomad, ever seeking but seldom finding.
Second, it is almost impossible for us to properly grasp the power of Community. Perhaps this history lesson will help give us perspective. When most people think of the book of Acts they think it was about a bunch of really zealous evangelistic Christians who told the world about Jesus when in reality it was about a bunch of Christians who loved each other and lived in Community towards each other. This compelling community is what became known as the Church. One church historian described it this way, “When pagans saw the way Christians loved each other, how they treated each other and how they enjoyed being together it was like a child looking through the window of a candy store.” This is my prayer for our church, that people would see the way we love and care for each other and then hear the door to the “candy store” swing open wide followed by an invitation inside.
Finally, two things I am very aware of when it comes to Community. Real community is hard work and it takes time to realize who you can trust and that you want to trust these people. Along the way it will get messy, there will be tears, woundedness and frustration but it always involves being in relationship with people who love you enough to bruise you now instead of watching you bleed later. I am also aware that Community requires each of us to do our part. No one person, no staff or group of leaders can create Community for everybody. Each of us has to look deep inside ourselves and ask if we are truly doing our part. By the time we reach twenty-five most of us have been wounded enough in relationships that the temptation is to opt for the relational trajectory of the restless wanderer because it feels safer. I’m here to say that it is not! When we choose isolation we then have to spend an inordinate amount of time convincing ourselves that we don’t want what the deepest parts of us longs for, the kind of connection that is born in and of Community. But we do, and we do want this sense of intimate belonging because it is part of what God created us to experience.
So, to all the Cains out there, the restless wanderers who feel as if you’ve done too much, been hurt too deeply or it’s too late I simply say, “The candy store is open. Would you like to come in?”
Taste and see,