Embracing Community

Back of two guys with a cup of coffee sitting on the steps of Pioneer Square in Downtown PortlandObsession.  A few years ago I’d just finished music school, and was pumped to keep learning.  I’d devote several hours each day to music.  I had the whole practice routine down.  Warm-up, practice scales, practice a new riff, work on a worship song, work on a jazz song, practice sightreading, and work on recording and band stuff.  And I kept at it for a while going strong.  But then one day after playing an hour, boom it me…I realized I was alone…alone practicing my guitar…I couldn’t concentrate.  I had to figure something out a better plan.

Yes, of course God was with me, but it wasn’t the same as people.  The next few years I continued working on social skills, hanging out with friends and practicing my charm on get-togethers with the ladyfolk.  I got better, eventually losing the victim mentality and negativity that drove others away.  I realized I couldn’t wait around for people to come to me, so I initiated as best I could.

For some reason through many years of going to church I felt like I didn’t quite fit in.  It’s not that people weren’t friendly, it just seemed like something was missing.  I found out eventually that there were many others who thought similarly, then realized this is a group problem.  They can’t be there for someone else like they should, because of their own issues.  Perhaps no one is reaching out, because we’re all so broken?

So maybe instead of judging others, perhaps we can understand that many of them have been wounded as well.   Pain can cripple us socially, whether we be someone sitting off in the corner with an ipod or sitting there pressing buttons on the phone attempting to look busy, or even knowing how to blend in a bit without being authentic.

Once I was leading worship and beforehand I talked to people before church.  One lady was asking why we weren’t praying.  I explained that though we do need prayer, it was an easy way to hide from having to talk to people.  To think I used to think I was so spiritual praying and others needed to follow suit.  I didn’t realize people were coming to church dry and desperately needing the interaction of the community they only see a couple of times a week.

1 Cor 13:1 says  if we speak in tongues, but have no love, we’re just making a bunch of noise.  Love in this verse is agape which means affection, good will, love, benevolence, and brotherly love.  Love feasts shall we say.

Us having a meal after Spanish serviceThere were examples of solitude in the New Testament with Jesus, John the Baptist and some of the apostles, but it was customary to have prayer together.  Communion was a social occasion, not just a ritual.  Even nowadays you can feel how corporate worship has such a different dynamic than playing CDs or online worship while by yourself at home.

It’s incredible how connected we are now via social media, email, phones and even games.  I can have a Skype conversation with someone across the world in the comfort of home.  I can look at Facebook updates and see what people from church and work are up to.  I can even see people I knew ten years ago.

But the communication breakthroughs come with a price.  We’ve depended on technology and lost connection in person.  Some of those challenges from in-person dynamics we might avoid are also what brings us closer together.  You can’t look in each other’s eyes with a Twitter profile.  Social muscles work like physical muscles.  If you don’t keep them exercised, you get lazy and unhealthy.

Those who don’t feel the need for church are missing out.  Yes, church, with its many flaws and people different than you, is being used for awesome purpose.  The people who you think you can’t relate to might just be more intertwined with your destiny than you ever imagined.  We weren’t made to be isolated, but created to worship in community.

I understand many of those burned from experiences in church have legitimate claims.  I’ve had a few scars myself, and I’ve known others who’ve been hurt within the church far more than you’d ever know just by seeing them.  I’m talking Judas’ kiss kind of pain.  And yet they’ve used those experiences to reach out to others and God somehow used that brokenness in His majestic grand scheme.

So what now?  Where do you start?  I’m sure you’ve got friends somewhere who will bring you to their church.  Or you could just post to Facebook, “Anybody know a good church?”  Try a few churches, see what you think.  But here’s the catch.  Instead of trying to think of what each church could do for you, think, “What do I have to offer?”  And when you do find a church, serve it with everything you have.

And if you have a church, embrace your church crowd, weaknesses, flaws and all.  Show them the agape love which you’ve longed for all your life.  Find leaders who will stand with you during the rough times even as you’re also praying for them.  You might not even always agree, but it’s worth it for that covering.

Worship God in the congregation.  Enjoy the new sounds from heaven.  Dance freely in the house.  Join in the Song of the Redeemed.

Category: Relationships, Spiritual Thoughts, Worship |

no comments

Comments are closed.