I think there are two primary barriers to developing healthy community in our culture.
Sure, we’ll come together to watch the Super Bowl – even if we couldn’t care less about football – but to develop true community takes real effort.
The two barriers I see are:
- Individualism, and
I struggle with both.
Both have been pounded into our thinking since we were born. They are so much a part of who we are that we may not even recognize how engrained they are unless someone points it out.
Here’s how they work against healthy community. The importance we place on being our own man or woman (individualism), means we often develop habits and create environments that separate us from others. We don’t want to be responsible for anyone else and we certainly don’t want to have to depend on someone else. So, a Bible verse encouraging us to “share one another’s burdens” flies in the face of our “look out for #1” mantra.
Our consumerism is reflected in how we want to be catered to – versus being in a community where we serve others. This is one reason many like the “big church” structures. It’s like a mall filled with spiritual goods and services. It’s also easier just to get what we want without having to invest ourselves. I’m not trying to offend anyone – and that’s a broad brush stroke of a statement – but I think there’s a lot of truth to it.
Even in our pursuit of success it’s easy to just see people as ways to get what we want. So, a verse like, “put the interests of others above our own,” doesn’t even seem reasonable – how will we ever get what we want thinking that way?
Today’s Good News is we’re not required to be enslaved to either individualism nor consumerism. Surprisingly, when we experience a community where everyone looks to “bear each other’s burdens” and “put the interests of others above our own” we will find incredible fulfillment and support. The upside-down counter-intuitive nature of Gospel-centered community means we find what we have been looking for in the first place when we stop running after it and instead look for ways to give ourselves to others. It’s sounds crazy, but it’s true.
We’ll never do this perfectly for each other, but the more we recognize the truth in this way of thinking and living, and the more we lean into it, the more we’ll find the life we’ve been designed to live – and that’s really Good News!
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