Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Buzzword Study

Christians have a lot of buzzwords, almost to the point where it's kind of hilarious. (Dare I say a little ridiculous?)  But, I have to say, some "buzz-words" really do strike a chord in my heart and express, quite well, what we're all about.

One of those words is community. Christians are called to live in community. If we really wanted to be like the early church, we would "all be together and have all things in common." (Acts 2:44)
That's a big calling, and one that I don't see a lot of people living out on the daily. I know I hardly ever live it out - maybe once or twice a year when I get a sudden urge to make dinner for my friends.

Living in community is a huge calling and one we're never going to excel at because, lets face it, we're humans and we're selfish, and we're sinful. That's never going to change.

God does give us times in our lives, though, where it's easier to do the community thing. I'm in one of those right now. Ironically, it started about the time I moved off camp.

When I lived on camp, I was literally living out the whole "they were all together" part of Acts 2:44. There were somewhere around 30 of us believers (including children) all living on the same piece of land (in separate houses, thankfully, but still...) and I rarely took advantage of the opportunity to "fellowship" (sorry, you know I had to fit that one in here somewhere) with the others. Yeah, we had monthly pot-lucks, but I left as soon as I was done eating, and yeah, I ate dinner at people's houses, but I was usually one of the first out the door and I never bothered to have people over to my house. I was totally ignoring the whole "they had all things in common" part.

But since I've moved off camp, I've found myself lingering longer and longer in the evenings and not rushing off. I've found myself being hyper-sensitive to the little evidences that we are a community, and, though we (I) may not always get it right, we do sometimes get it pretty close to right:

A few months ago, we (the ladies in the office) were discussing the menu for the day and Paul was working away, but still listening, apparently, because, when we named lunch, he practically jumped out of his chair with a gasp and an over-joyed (and perhaps over-dramatic?) "We're having Hawaiian Stack-ups?!"

We share meals together quite frequently. Also? We all know what Hawaiian Stack-ups are, even if we don't all love them as much as Paul apparently does.
We live in community - we have food in common.

A while back, I was walking past my car, which had been parked in the same spot in front of the office all day, around mid-afternoon, and noticed a styrofoam cup sitting on the back of it. I didn't have to think twice - before I even walked over to it, I knew it was a full cup of coffee that Mike had left there. A few hours later, I teased Mike - "hey, you left your coffee on my car." He replied "yeah, I realized that later on, but then I though 'ah, Esther will know its mine and she'll have thrown it away already.'"

We know we each have our own little quirks, but even better - we know each other well enough that we're okay with knowing that other people know our quirks.
We live in community - we have quirks in common.

This past Spring, I was privileged to be a part of the first "Community Group" I've ever been involved in.  All my growing up years, I went to a small church that definitely believed in community, but we are an unusual church.  We have a very specific purpose that has been laid on our hearts by God.  Maybe one day I'll write about it.

But, because of the fact that we have that purpose, we don't have many of the "bells and whistles" (beautiful bells and whistles, might I add) that characterize so many churches in our American Christian culture.

Being a part of that community group was a very eye-opening experience for me.  I realized that living in community is not at all easy or natural.  I had to work hard to make sure that I actually made it there, and I won't lie, there were nights when I didn't particularly want to make the 30-minute drive to get there, but I did, and it was so worth it!

In our community group, we shared stories, we invented ways to help others with our meager resources, we learned, we grew in our faith, and we walked with each other through difficult times.

Also?  We walked together through good times - through baptisms, lunches at Ramos, happy-baby-days, weird baby TV shows, and cook-outs.

That's the thing about Christian community - it's not reserved just for sitting in a circle and talking about Jesus and how to love Him more and how to be more like Him (although that's one of my favorite parts), it's really about sharing His gifts with each other and facing life together whether it requires laughter or tears...or both at the same time.