Matt Smith, Antioch’s College Pastor, and I have been having a lot of discussions this week on the nature of community and the identity of the church. Far too often, we overlook community and focus only on the function of the church.
However, doing comes out of being and function follows form.
Being in deep relationship with other Christians is essential to our calling.
Matt has some amazing insights on what that looks like and how the church can get there.
This morning, however, I found myself thinking of the other side — the side of disappointment and failed effort.
What do you do with the hollow demoralizing feeling when others let you down?How do you keep giving when you begin to realize that others are just taking?How do we pursue lasting community when people often don’t shoot straight and many times don’t tell the truth (including ourselves?)Where do we get filled up when we continually get drained?
I’ve got a bunch of thoughts on this, but I’ll just put down a few.
First, expectations… if we expect perfection or easy results then we are certain to get disappointed or frustrated. We paint because it is worth doing, not because we’re Picasso’s. Likewise, we live in community because it is worth doing, not because we’ll do it perfectly.
Second, forgiveness… if you have lots of kids you will inevitably need tape. Forgiveness is a kind of spiritual or relational tape. Without it we can’t get over things. With it we can repair stuff and move on. Church is a glass house with lots of kids – tape and glue required.
Third, fluid categories… if we are all different parts of a body, then we will all have different strengths and, correspondingly, different weaknesses. Extroverts will hurt you in a different way than introverts. Creative people will let you down in different ways than organized people. Laid back people will disappoint differently than strong ones. Be gracious where people are naturally weak so you can appreciate where they are naturally gifted. Don’t spotlight the messiness of others the same way you don’t want your junk magnified. Evaluate people according to how God made them… not according to your own values and priorities.
Lastly, hang out with more people like Matt Smith… if we are going to grow into community, we have to have people we can learn from.