“Christian community is like the Christian's sanctification. It is a gift of God which we cannot claim. Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day to day as God pleases.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Last week, Mike Rusch and I were discussing the buzz-words of life when he said, "'Community' is one of those words that has come to define our generation. It's a word that means everything to us, without really meaning anything at all."
I've been wrestling with those words for several days now. I think he's right. Sometimes I wonder whether "community" has become little more than an ad hoc descriptor, a word tossed about carelessly without thought for it's true depth.
For example, I've heard that community means "living life together," or that it is a group that meets on Wednesday nights to study scripture, or that it is a neighborhood of people in Portland who gather in an apartment to discuss social ills. Perhaps each of these provides an adequate description of one facet of community, but isn't community all of these things? Isn't community really more than these things? And then when we super-impose "Christian" over the descriptor, doesn't the term "community" take a wholly different kind of meaning, a different set of eternal ethic?
Today I'm hoping to engage everyone in the Collective community for a bit of a project. I'm asking, what does community mean to you? Also, what resources (books, videos, other media) have most influenced your ideas of community? Finally, what are your scriptural proofs regarding community and the ways in which it plays out?
Please jump in here. We'd like to hear from doctors, farmers, housewives, social activists, blue-collar, white-collar, black, white, and everyone in-between. If you are a lurker or non-commentor, that's great... but today is your chance to jump in.
I'd love to put some flesh on these bones. Who's first?