The human ego is a sly and persistent bugger. Our bent toward self-centeredness is an ever-present menace in times of well-intended Christian living. You never know when and where the individual ego, under the strong influence of the Enemy, will take and distort an otherwise good, God made gift. The Enemy will often lead our dry, thirsty souls to water. But then instead of drinking our fill we end up splashing around and skipping rocks, leaving more parched and thirsty than when we arrived.
This is certainly the case with some forms of “community” we are finding within the life of the church. Our culture of fast-paced, career-driven, materialistic lifestyles has left many people with a great sense of emptiness and a longing for connection and belonging. When we spend our waking hours as cogs in the machinery of various businesses, corporations and organizations, many begin to yearn for a more soul-enriching purpose and to be placed within a different story and community.
More Meaning than The Quest for the American Dream
The church offers such a place. The church stands at the busy intersections of our daily jobs and family lives, and invites the weary soul to become part of a community with a purpose—a deeper, more satisfying purpose than the world offers. The church tells another story that gives our lives more meaning than the quest for the American dream.
However, some of the community we experience within church circles still fails to rescue us from the individualistic, self-centered orientation of the world. All too often we simply bring the worldliness and “fleshly” mindset into our Christian community gatherings and never see God’s gospel and Kingdom reality radically transform us into new people filled with new perspective, values and commitments reshaped around the Christian story and simple obedience to the Way of Jesus.
In their bold, prophetic book Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon offer a sharp and timely warning to Christians to beware of a pseudo-community that can offer us a form of “togetherness” that our lonely hearts crave but nevertheless leads us no closer to Christ. If we’re not careful and vigilant, all kinds of so-called Christian communities — Bible studies, book studies, small groups, youth groups, house fellowships — while good intentioned nevertheless are built upon and centered around all the wrong things. In their words: Continue reading Community: When ‘Togetherness’ Isn’t Enough