Saturday, September 22, 2012

we were/are created for community (it's not optional!)

Hanging out with my community of faith at First Presbyterian of Brandon
NOTE: Today’s post first appeared earlier this week at the Upper Room Books web page as an “Author Blog.” I have been asked to write a 3-post series on “The importance of Christian Community. Here’s the link – Upper Room Books– I’d encourage you to check out their site. Alternatively, you can link directly to their excellent bookstore – Bookstore.
Derek Maul, Upper Room author, shares some thoughts on the importance of Christian community in this first of three blog posts.
And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.—Hebrews 10:24-25
’m writing this post on a Saturday evening, which means I’ll be in church first thing tomorrow morning. There are several reasons for this, but one of the most compelling is how critical it is for me to be immersed in my community of faith.
  • It may be a beautiful morning tomorrow, one that cries, “Golf!” or “Beach!” at full volume.
  • Or I may be dog-tired and desperately in need of a couple extra hours of sleep.
  • Or I may have this looming deadline that a long Sunday and a large pot of coffee could handily take care of.
  • Or I may simply not feel like heading in to worship.
It’s up to me. I could go, or I could not go—my decision. I’m an adult now. I could go to church, or I could stay at home.
But I’m going to be there; you can count on it. There’s no “maybe” when it comes to church. Because everything I value in my life is encouraged, validated, fine-tuned, and restored in the context of intentional community.
INTENTIONAL: Yes, intentional. I’m using the word carefully. I’m a loner by nature—the kind of guy who could happily make his way through a week or three without having a conversation, or watching a TV show, or checking in with his kids. But I’ve learned over the years how important it is for me to invest myself in other people. I’m always glad when I do; I just have to be deliberate about taking the necessary steps.
Just because community is good for me doesn’t mean that seeking it out comes naturally, or that I don’t have to make any effort.
COMMUNITY AS DISCIPLINE: Here’s the thing. Irrespective of my “natural” proclivity to keep myself to myself, I still need the community of faith. It’s how – and why – I was created. God created us for community, deliberate relationship both with God and with other people; community is at the core of how we are designed.
Here’s how the idea was presented in my newest book, 10 Life-Charged Words:
The (person) who says, “I’m not any good at making friends” is no more —or less—in need of life-charged community than the [person] who has accumulated a dozen friends without even trying. We were created for relationship with God, and we were created for relationship with other people. Building community is absolutely necessary for anyone who wants to engage their full potential.
celebrating our common life together – in our new fellowship hall.
So I make the effort to attend my men’s group; I have an “accountability” covenant with a couple of friends; I talk about absolutely everything with my wife (especially when I don’t want to); I talk to at least one of my adult children every single day; I intentionally avoid sitting in the corner during gatherings . . . and tomorrow morning  I’m going to be in church.
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord ordained his blessing, life forevermore. —Psalm 133

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