Monday, June 28, 2010


Over the last few weeks I've had a number of conversations with people about what it means to do life together/live in community. These people have had a variety of life experiences and various amounts of life experiences, so I was able to get some different perspectives. 
It seems to me that there are certain times/places where a sense of community is much stronger than others.  Mission trips, conferences, and retreats are all places where a strong sense of Christian community tends to prevail.  Central college was also a place where I really felt a sense of community.  At school we were really doing life together.  We laughed together, cried together, prayed together, worshiped together, played together, etc, etc, etc.  We had a real sense that we were the body of Christ and we were all part of it.  If one of us was hurting, all of us felt the pain.  When one of us rejoiced, we all rejoiced.  I think many people have had experiences like that and I was very blessed to be able to live in that kind of community for 4 years. Now I miss it and I keep asking why that kind of community can't exist elsewhere.
It's true that some environments (such as mission trips, retreats, conferences) act as a sort of incubator for spiritual growth and foster a sense of community, but why can't we have that kind of community outside of the incubator?  Some one (potentially more than one someone) told me it was because real life got in the way. At first I accepted that, but then I thought about it more.  Is it just because life gets in the way or is it because we don't expect to be able to live in that kind of community?
Central might not have been the same as "real life" (whatever that is), but it wasn't an incubator either.  We had very real struggles that we dealt with.  We had a classmate die this year. We had classmates diagnosed with serious illnesses, classmates with serious family struggles, classmates who didn't know how they were going to pay tuition of the next semester or how they were going to afford books, or gas in their car to get home, classmates struggling to discern the next step, whether they should continue education or if they were being called elses, classmates getting married, classmates breaking name it, we probably dealt with it.  If that's not real life, I don't know what is.  Yet through it all, we were together as a Christian community, supporting each other, being excited about Jesus together.  Christianity wasn't a Sunday morning deal, it was a 25 hours a day, 8 days a week kind of thing.
Reflecting on that, I think that part of the reason we don't live in that kind of community all the time is because we don't expect to or make the effort to. I wonder how life would be different if we were intentional about living in community. Outside of college, where we all live at different places, it's a little tougher to be intentional.  I can't just walk upstairs and pray with some when I'm at home, or go down the hall and have a life chat with a friend. Often I don't get to eat my meals with a dozen other people or worship multiple times a week with the community.  I'm thankful for the ways I can still be connected to the community though.  The internet is a great tool for that and I love the conversations that I have during the week with my Central friends, the ones where we talk serious about what G-d is doing in our lives.  I cherish the time that I do get to spend face to face with people here and the conversations we have.  I long for place where I can be real face to face, a place where I can be engaged in Bible study and prayer and supporting others and being supported by others.  The tricky part is, I'm only home for three months out of the year, so I can't really expect things like that to be part of life here.
So for now, I cherish what I do have and wonder at how things could be different and why things are they way they are.

1 comment:

Valerie said...