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The Missing Piece: Community
by Cate Russell-Cole
11/02/2015 / Church Life
When I read about Jesus, I see a radical man who often acted in manner which offended people, and whose actions were profoundly distinctive and different from the status quo. I do not read of Him hesitating or coming into line with what public niceties expected of Him. He saw a need, and He fulfilled it without caring who would be shocked and what accusations would be bought against Him. His love for the people was greater. Recently I was saddened at an example of the church being held captive by the way the world thinks. A pastor when driving home at eleven at night, saw a very drunk girl weaving her way down the footpath on the highway. His instincts were to help her, but he was unable. Had he of tried to get the girl into his car to take her to safety, being alone his actions could have easily been misconstrued and he would be falsely accused if not fined for rape or abduction. His reputation and the reputation and well being of the church was at stake. Where have we come to?
We've learnt to think like the world, rather than be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 1 In common terms, we're true "westerners." Even the white, English speaking masses, like the Asian and African cultures, have been continually persuaded and brainwashed by mass media, materialism and greed into being more "westernised." Our self value has been stripped away as our base in Christian values and belief and the sanctity of love, and family life have been all but demolished by Hollywood images and promises, the realities of work, mortgages and the relentless pursuit of happiness. The church's thought, also bombarded by these influences, has also become tainted and warped away from the original truths it was to live from. We are no longer aliens in a land that is not home, 2 with a different culture and separate standards, we easily fall into the world's trap, and live with all the expectations, demands and trappings.
We're programmed to "us." We fulfil our own need for significance and meaningful achievement, leaving the lost, the lonely, and less lovely outside our clique of friends and colleagues as we strive to attain our own goals and needs. How often do we ring up that person who was crying during the service, or who we know is having a hard time? Then, we must have time for us, so instead of attending a prayer meeting or home group, we "veg out" in front of the television, and lose contact with others, and even our families. "At home, family members are in their own "Techno-Cocoons," each hooked up to a different techno-gadget." The authors urge families to "avoid this isolating trend of the nineties, and healthy communication alive." 3 Where have we gone?
The essential element missing from our churches, and in many instances from our Australian culture, is a sense of community. If you've studied sociology, "community" is a hackneyed phrase. Many texts have been written. extensive analysis and debate has taken place on it's existence, attributes and how to improve it. In our Judeo-Christian culture, there is a very simple ingredient that creates and holds together a community, that being love, an ability to look outside of ourselves to take time and be concerned for others. It is that Scriptural agape love which has no thought to cost or returns.
Brothers and sisters in Christ cannot hug as it may be misinterpreted, or lead to sin. Leaders stay remote from those they're leading so the truths of their imperfections and frailties aren't revealed. We chase revelation, prophecy, healing, deliverance, revival and church growth relentlessly - because we've got the answers the unsaved haven't got, so we're better than them, aren't we? Are we? Do you bring a newborn into a family with little sense of community and love, and then expect them to grow up completely whole, perfect and healthy? What about when the baby Christians grow up so more, are able to stand up by themselves on more solid footing? Do you stop hugging, feeding, nurturing and spending time with your kids when they get a bit older, because they are now more able to cope by themselves? I think not.
So what is the answer? We can't make love and community happen. We can't put people through a six week programme and change their thinking. It's only God's work in our hearts that can birth true agape love, and a fulfilling lasting sense of true community. Come Lord Jesus, work in us.
1 "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with what is good." Romans 12:21
2 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 3:20 NKJV
3 From "Technostress" by Michelle Weil and Larry Rosen. Where have we gone?
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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