Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Beauty and Pain of Community

Have you ever been hurt from another follower of Jesus?  Has your church community ever let you down?  I’m sure we all can answer "yes" to this question at some time or other  in our life. 

Have you ever noticed how oblivious you are to the problems  of your church when you're just an attendee?  It's really not until you become vested by joining a small group or serving somewhere that awareness of those problems become recognizable and then inevitably disillusionment moves in and makes its home in our hearts.  Is this really what Jesus intended when He established His church? 

The simple truth is that being in community is both wonderful and painful all at the same time.


Webster’s Dictionary defines community as a unified body of individuals and unity as a condition of harmony.  God’s design and intention was that the church would be a body of individuals living in harmony with one another.

Harmony in music adds dimension, fullness to a melody.  The beauty of harmony is its different parts working together to enhance the song; adding flavor and depth.  Harmony is NOT all the individual parts singing the same thing. 


The same is true of community.  It is not all the individuals doing and saying the same thing but all of them working together towards the same goal each using their unique gifts and abilities to bring depth and dimension to the ONE purpose. 


And there’s the rub.


Working together brings friction, conflict and tension and in our “want to make life easy world” we don’t often see the good that God can bring from this pressure.  Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone were all the same?  No conflict, no difference, no divergence.


But God didn’t create us to be the same, he made us each unique and distinctive.  And He chose to have the church made up of individuals, one of a kind, working together to accomplish His plan.  

We are like rocks in a tumbler; bouncing, rubbing and polishing off each other’s rough edges.  


God understood that working together; rubbing up against each other would bring about an unspeakable beauty not only in our lives but in His church. 


Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the Word of Life.   (Philippians 2:15b, NLT)


The world is familiar with the rubbing, the friction but they don’t understand what beauty can come from this.  We as followers of Jesus should!   We know that learning to listen to those who challenge our behavior, our attitudes stretches us, remakes us and molds us into the person that God intended us to be.  Working together with other people who are broken and imperfect like us is God's design.  So we welcome the tension, open the door to conflict and allow it to polish off our rough edges and make us more like Jesus, then we will shine with a breathtaking splendor.


The next time you find yourself in conflict with another follower of Jesus, don’t be surprised, after all we’re ALL still in the process of be perfected.  But know this; God wants to use this upheaval in your life to polish you into a beautiful star that shines brightly for the entire world to see.

Will you throw open wide the door and welcome it or turn your back and walk away?

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