Community is one of the current buzzwords. We're constantly talking / blogging / giffing inspirational quotes about the importance of community and how much we need to "do life together." There's just one little problem...
Real friendships are awkward.
... We're it.
What do I mean?
Problem # 1: Our definition of community is wrong
I look at all these color-corrected images of happy hipster people in coffee shops with their carefree hair and tattoo #5 going on and think to myself "oh that's what community looks like, I guess I don't have one."
Community is the hodge podge collection of folks you meet when you drag your tired, sorry bum to church every Sunday.
Community is the Walmart employee you know by name who oversees the automated checkout station.
Community is the other hodge podge group of folks who digitally gather 'round when you post a prayer request on your favorite internet forum of choice.
Solution #1: Recognize the community we have
Problem #2: We're not actively building community
So if we have a fuzzy idea of what community is, how are we supposed to build it? Looking at my social habits, I have been sooo passive about this ... and I'm kicking myself for it.
I have emails I've handwritten asking people to mentor me. Haven't sent them yet.
I have friends who live near me that I haven't seen for the past month. We've texted ... a little bit.
I have girls I mentor and a pop-up reminder to make contact regularly. Finally.
I have a short list of social media friends that I read and respond to regularly. Thankfully.
All in all, it's rather lopsided.
I used to call people when I was an emotional meltdown. Now I don't call people at all, except sometimes.
Solution #2: Make a list of people you care about. Then go talk to them. And listen. Regularly.
Problem #3: We're not defending our community
You know how your friend ticked you off last week and you haven't texted much since?This is the big one. And it's personally too familiar. We don't know how to resolve disagreements. And it's literally destroying our relationships, one stranded text conversation at a time. We don't know how to speak up both bravely and respectfully when our feelings get hurt. We've forgotten how to pick up the phone and talk it out. And we're too scared to meet up and work it out in person. No wonder our divorce rates suck; Marriage is an expression of loving God through loving our community. And that's the exact reason we need to work these tedious misunderstandings out:
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
God commands us - commands us - to love our neighbor as our self. Even if we're not the one who's offended:
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Also, Jesus was pretty clear about the definition of neighbor.
The good news is that we don't have to do this in our own strength. We get to ask Jesus for help walking out what He told us to do.
Solution #3: Walk in love. Resolve the disagreements. Go out of your way to try and make it right
Problem #4: It's not just you...Everybody - and I mean everybody - wrestles with this. It's not easy to let go of hurt feelings or slow down for the sake of the more emotional person.
So if you're on the receiving end of someone else blowing you off and you try to work things out, but the other person isn't willing ... take a deep breath.
While aspects of this get easier, the sacrifice of love never becomes convenient.
You tried. You took responsibility for you.
If they didn't want to talk it out, that's not your fault.
It's a broken world.
Sometimes trust gets broken and can't be rebuilt.
Sometimes you have to work it out alone and walk away.
Sometimes it's too late.
Either way, remind yourself of this:
Solution # 4:
One day we will stand in heaven with our fellow believers, and we will finally understand;
One day the love of God will so overcome us that none of these petty things here on earth will ever matter anymore.
Keep Going. Keep Loving.
The King of Kings is worth it.