Living in community is a lost way of life. We are aware that we don’t even know our neighbors much less live in community with them. And I understand why. It is a pain.
During the generation when families moved from rural farming communities into more urban settings, they brought with them a sense of community. They built houses with big front porches. They helped each other with projects, sick kids, errands…anyway they could. That was the “neighborly” thing to do.
But somewhere over time that way of life has all but disappeared. Sure pockets of it exist. But now people build their houses so that they live life in their backyards behind their privacy fences after they have pulled their cars into their garages opened and closed by automatic door openers. The only act of being “neighborly” is the head nod at “what’s his name again?”
Church isn’t much better. We attend one or two meetings a week shaking a few hands, catching up on trivial matters, then rush off to eat lunch or attend a ballgame.
Why has life become like this? Why do we find it hard to live in community?
It is exhausting.
I can’t always do what I want.
I don’t like rejection or getting hurt.
We have to care for each other.
I don’t want people to really know me.
Here is a microcosm of the challenges of living life together: when a group of people go on a short-term mission trip for a week or two. Talk about living in community. Especially if the team travels a far distance. Team members eat their meals together, share living space, learn each others idiosyncracies, etc. What begins as an exciting adventure can quickly break down to learning how to survive each other.
Ok, so living in community is hard. We get that. All these challenges are true. But we overlook something plain and simple. If we don’t put in the effort to live life together as Christians, then we miss opportunity after opportunity to reflect the gospel—how will they know we love each other if they don’t see us live life together. It’s easy to attend those one or two church gatherings a week and be on our best behavior, hiding behind our facade.
So that is why we should live in community as a Christian, but seriously how do we do that without getting hurt, rejected, exhausted, etc.?
We can’t do it on our own that’s for sure. Well, I sure can’t. Still, we try to do it in our own power and strength. No wonder it hurts.
Instead, if we walk with the Holy Spirit, His fruit overcomes exhaustion, selfishness, lack of compassion, etc. This is how they will know God is in us. Really, the title is misleading. We still probably will get hurt, rejected and so on if we truly live life with others. But again, it is through those painful life experiences that God’s Spirit reveals His nature, if we let Him.