2.22.2006

core values 2

We value a growing understanding of what it means to be a true community of faith…

Community is not an easy thing to define, but it clearly has to do with healthy, interdependent relationships with sisters and brothers in Christ, centered around common purposes, interests or goals.

If God’s ultimate purpose is that “earth and heaven be one” then so should ours be. If God’s purpose is that we more and more resemble the shalom people of God, then so should ours be. If the value mentioned above is true for us, then the present and growing Kingdom of God is one of the key goals around which we are to center this community of faith. This means that we as the gathered and dispersed people of God live our lives, approve our budgets, make our plans, adapt our ways of doing things (and preserve our ways of doing things) as they contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God in our midst, our geographical community and our world. If what we are doing or planning to do does not build and nourish that Kingdom, then we dare not do it. This requires prayer, humility, self-sacrifice and honesty with ourselves and with one another.

If we truly value community we not only center our lives around common goals and purposes, but we do so in authentic Christ-honoring relationships with one another. This means we hold one another accountable in our individual walks with Christ. It means caring for one another in practical, authentic ways. It means dealing with one another in loving ways, forsaking all forms of behavior that damage relationships, destroy unity and therefore corrupt our worship and our witness in the world. And, when we fail in these relationships, valuing community means making those relationships right. It means reconciliation with those who have wronged us or those whom we have wronged. It means confessing our sins to one another and confronting one another in love and truth when we feel that we have been “sinned against.” It means asking for forgiveness when we sin and granting forgiveness to those who sin against us. It means refusing to gossip or backbit or slander others. It means speaking out when such behaviors are going on around us.

Community is about purpose and mission and it is about relationships with one another. Jesus himself prayed for us in John 17 that we be one so that the world would know that God the Father sent him. Our witness suffers when our unity suffers. Our unity suffers when we do not value and nourish community.

2 Comments:

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Dinger said...

A hearty "Amen!" to every word. The Church is not a "Club." If the outside community will know us by our love for one another, we had better be sure we are loving sincerely. Why would anyone approach us if we are not loving one another deeply, and forgiving deeply?

In the church of my youth we performed a musical written by our pastor, Jim Foster and his wife Barbara. It has stayed with me since.
-------------------------------------------
Lovin' Is Hard

Man:
Lovin' is hard because we don't agree,
Lovin' is hard, you disappointed me.
I reached for you, and you walked away.
I ask you, who needs the pain,
And who needs the strain of lovin'?

Woman:
Lovin' is hard when there's no love in return,
Lovin' is hard when I began to discern:
I only love when things go my way.
I ask you, who needs the pain,
And who needs the strain of lovin'?

Both:
Rejection, don't want to hurt no more,
Rejection, can't open wide the door
Fearing that more hurt's on the way.
I ask you, who needs the pain,
And who needs the strain of lovin'?

Other:
In view of this, thus He commanded us:
Love one another.
Love one another, as I have loved you.
As I've loved you.

Jesus:
I loved you when you walked with your back to me,
Forgave you when you saw no necessity,
Hung there in shame,
Suffered the pain, took all the blame,
And you didn't care,
You didn't care.
So I command you to love one another.
Love one another as I have loved you,
And I'll bear the strain,
And I'll bear the pain of your lovin'.
-----------------------------------
I always said if you can't cry or bear your soul with your church family (um, not the whole congregation of course) then who can you cry with? God really, really does give us the supernatural power to love and forgive each other and there is no going anywhere as a congregation if that ain't happenin'.

My question would be,
In what framework do we learn to know each other?

 
At 7:08 PM, Blogger Luke said...

Revinator:

I also say a hearty "AMEN!". The thing I have to recognize and wrestle with about true community is that COMMUNITY IS MESSY. It requires mega-doses of humility, sensitivity, and just plain old work. It requires commitment, even when it isn't convenient or easy. It requires follow through. It means letting go of the expectation that you'll handle your stuff and I'll handle my stuff, and you don't need to know about my stuff and I don't need to know about your stuff - it requires a level of honesty most of us aren't comfortable with. It means letting go of the idea that if I serve you, it is in the expectation that you will serve me. It means discovering the true nature of a servant's heart - no expectation of reward other than the opportunity to serve. And perhaps above all else, it implies a very real, deep, and committed understanding of what forgiveness is all about. Forgiving means really releasing resentment, and coming back to shalom with one another.

Scot McKnight's post on humility and the discussion that followed were very enlightening. The opposite of humility is pride. And it is pride that dictates how we expect others to respond to us, and how we react when we don't get the response we thing we expect and think we deserve. I've said before, I've learned to distrust any thought that begins with "I deserve..."

How the concept of humility applies to community is practical application. And that is tough, and messy.

Can you TELL I wrestle with pride? Like, I mean, a lot more than I should, at this point?

I read an article about community, and how messy it was. It likened the ideal of community with the parable about the young, wealthy ruler who asked Jesus what he had to do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus told him - he found the price too high. Individuality, self, ego - what price is too high for real community?

But when it is done right - or even, partly right, or even the faint echo of right - it is deeply, richly meaningful and satisfying. Because... it is the foretaste of kingdom come, Thy will done, on EARTH as it is in heaven...

 

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