I had someone ask me to define Christian community and I thought I’d throw out my current thoughts… (so don’t clobber me if I say something that I’ll want to modify later :)
This morning at staff meeting I confessed to Kip, Fred & Brandon that after all this time I still think I make a better American than I do Christian. It was my way of saying that if we truly lived in faith then we would look a lot more foolish than we do. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead then he and the other Christians would look like the biggest fools. In other words, giving away all your money, leaving family and friends, enduring persecution, working tirelessly… and then working some more, withstanding betrayal and on and on looks utterly stupid and foolhardy if Jesus’ message isn’t true and this world isn’t just a small window to work and present yourself as a living sacrifice to God (see Romans 12:1-2).
Here’s where my point came in earlier… I have a nice car, I own a home, I have a job that pays the bills, I do what I want for fun and entertainment and in the end, most Americans would look at me and find me respectable. On the surface, I don’t know how many Americans would really say, “there goes a fool.”
There is more that I can trust God for… there is more that I can trust Him with… there is more meaningless stuff that I can leverage for the meaningful work of the Kingdom of God.
So back to community… I think that my dream of a Christian community is one that looks like the band that gathered around Jesus. Most were committed to his movement and had traded away a lot of other things that would have made them good “Galileans” so that they could be foolish Jesus followers. They didn’t get it all… many things were mysterious and confusing… they had a lot of maturing to do… and they didn’t always get along, but they were sold out.
In the same vein, I long for a community of Christ followers who don’t quite get it all and aren’t quite perfect, but they are sold out and passionate. Not just the kind of sold out that has to do with emotions and the subjective, but the kind of sold out that affects someone’s money, resources, time, commitments, dreams, relationships and perseverance — the objective kind of “sold out.”
Antioch, so far, is the closest I’ve ever seen at being a fresh and exciting community of Christians. It has reminded me that God’s plan for church is beautiful and satisfying. What lies before us, however, is the deeper and harder task of “pouring ourselves out like a drink offering” and becoming a community bent on making a dent in this world — no matter how much sweat and how many tears it takes.
If we see God as big enough, if we see the junk commercials put in front of us as meaningless enough, if we learn to enjoy spiritual fruit as much as we do material prosperity, if we learn to accept responsibility instead of avoiding it, if we lead by example and if we actually make firm choices and commitments to follow God no matter what (and then pray for God’s help!) then, and only then, will we possibly reach the potential that I believe exists for a community of Christians.
It seems unlikely. But, then again, it was unlikely when Jesus did it 2000 years ago.
I don’t know what God has for me or our church, but I don’t want to look back someday and realize that I traded away a Kingdom possibility for some dumb byproduct of American culture.
I want to be a part of a community of Kingdom minded Christians… not just the ringmaster of a weekly church service. I don’t want us to be good Americans… I want us to be good Christians – however hard and foolish it seems.
There’s what’s in my gut… hopefully it makes sense to some others out there.