Early on in this conversation, I received a wonderfully encouraging email from a dear friend. You know, the kind that is always there for everyone else despite the mountain of responsibilities looming ahead of her. She is the uplifting note in your mailbox during a hard week. And a special treat for your kids during every holiday season. She is a potted violet of thanks on your windowsill. A ray of light shining on your darkest, most lonely days. And a voice of reassurance when the rest of the world has gone crickets on you (like when you commit to writing for 31 days straight). Selfless and thoughtful. And I want to be more like her when I grow up.
A few words from her message:
“I know you well enough to know your ideal community is either right outside your front door or in another country completely. My prayer for you will be that the places you are in, the things that you are a part of during each week will bring you the peace and joy of some sort of feeling of community.”
And I appreciate her wisdom in recognizing that I have the tendency to focus on the ideal and miss the real right in front of me. And I do, all the time. But, in this particular conversation, I want to clarify that I am not looking for and dreaming of “ideal” community, but instead “actual, authentic” community as defined by the Bible, evidenced by the very character of the Triune God, and perpetuated by the creation of man in His image.
The word “ideal” denotes perfection, and community is anything but perfect. It’s messy, hurtful, inconvenient, and exhausting. But also full. Of life. And each other.
“The fundamental building blocks of the kingdom are relationships. Not programs, systems or productivity, but inconvenient, time-consuming, intrusive relationships. The kingdom is built on personal involvement that disrupts schedules and drains energy. When I enter into redemptive relationships with others, I lose much of my capacity to produce desired results with a minimum expenditure of energy, time, money or materials. In short, relationships sabotage my efficiency. A part of me dies. Is this perhaps what our Lord meant when He said we must lay down our lives for each other?” (Robert D. Lupton, Theirs is the Kingdom: Celebrating the Gospel in Urban America).
The life God planned for us in the garden and was made possible for us on the cross. The kingdom of God here on earth now as we wait for our glorious reunion. The restoring of shalom.
It is our right.
It is our inheritance.
It is our responsibility.
It is our reality.
May we live it (or die it).