Community works great when everyone in the room looks like you, lives in the same neighborhoods you do, shops at the same grocery stores, goes to the same churches, and your kids go to the same schools. Everything feels comfortable when the people around you have similar interests and have political signs in their yard of the parties you support.
It sounds nice. I'm part of the "this & that" community. We are part of the outreach of "who's & what's." We go "here & there" doing good things as part of our community. It's great if all of that is true, but do all of the "who's" look the same? Will all of the "what's" always agree? Probably not. It seems as if everyone coming to the gathering looks the same doing things for another group which looks the same. If you're never doing things together to mix the two groups then is it really community? Or is it two communities?
Community gets a little sticky when there is diversity. We like to say come to the table there's plenty of room. But is there room enough for everyone when everything seems tight and rigid? Will it feel like all are welcome?
We can be friends with people with whom we disagree, but it's human nature to leave behind someone who's thoughts don't align with yours. Real community is disagreeing with someone but not changing your friendship status over it. Let me pause for a moment and make a very brief sports analogy. How is it that we can disagree about teams but we lose friendships over political differences?
We lose a little bit of credibility when we can rattle off stats about a football team and tease another fan about the shortcomings of their favorite team - but through it all, you're still friends. The fact that you disagree is what draws you closer. You love the contest, the rivalry. The fans make the game fun. So why can't we use that same connection when it comes to other interactions and disagreements? You might say sports is for fun, but politics are serious. True - but can't we use that same respect for the other to make it a debate and not hate filled?
I'm no expert but I don't think Jesus meant for the only ones at the Last Supper to be included in His prayer were the ones present. Jesus was praying for the community. Everyone. Those present and those who were not. Those who lived in Jesus time and those in 2016. EVERYONE is welcome at the table. Not only the ones who were sure of who He was. Not only the ones who sinned against Him. Not only the ones who had the same skin color or went to the same church. The people welcome at the table were anyone in the community.
*The people welcome at the table were anyone in the community.*
I'm no theologian but I believe the men at His table weren't from the same neighborhood either. All walks of life were represented there. Weren't there fishermen and tax collectors breaking bread? Couldn't we see them as teachers and accountants, today? Maybe that's a stretch, because the tax collectors were so hated, but you understand my analogy right?
Community is connecting with people more than just shopping at the mall or working in an office. Community is making a deeper connection with people who might not look like you, or think like you but acknowledging you and the other person made the steps to meet in the middle. Not by compromising on your issues, but meeting in the middle of mutual respect. You met them where they are right now. That's all that community ever is. Meeting another where they are, right at that moment.
Community doesn't say we are together because we agree.
Community says we are together because we are one in Christ.
Christ accepts everyone to His table, even the ones who aren't there.
And the ones who aren't there should be able to see Him in His followers so they are led to the table of communion.
Maybe we need to make our table longer. Make our conversations deeper. Close our eyes and listen with our hearts. Let's not judge what we see when all of our souls are hidden.
I believe we can do better than a mile wide and an inch deep.
Seeds to Share
Psalm 133.1 - How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!