Over the last several months we (the young adults group I work with) have been studying the communal aspects of our faith – what it would/could/should look like when we pursue our faith journey in the midst of a community of other Jesus followers. It’s been a good conversation and one that I don’t think has come very easily for most of us.
If you’re like me you place a high value on relationships in your life. Friends are family, and we couldn’t & really don’t want to pursue life on our own. And yet, if we’re honest, we look around ourselves and our lives (in spite of how much we talk about community) are really void of very many truly meaningful relationships. Sometimes the few that we can count on have come from work relationships, sports/hobbies we pursue, and even friendships we’ve managed to hold onto through the years from our past.
How would we rate the importance of the relationships we have within the Body of Christ?
I think it’s important to realize that the source of this longing within our lives is God. He is the one who has made us with this need for other people. I think it’s equally important to realize that He also designed a place to bring fulfillment of this longing – the Body of Christ, the Church. We really don’t like to hear that – we rarely see authenticity in relationships we have with those whom we choose to worship with on a regular basis, but it is a truth that I don’t think we can get far away from.
Yeah, I know the Church (capital C) is more than just the group of people who meet in a building together once a week to pursue God. We can have these significant spiritual relationships with others who we don’t see in that building who are Christians like us. But I don’t think we can separate ourselves completely from that group of people, either.
I recently read an article by Rick Warren on his site (www.rickwarren.com) entitled, “The Church – the greatest force on Earth.” In it he holds up the great ‘giants’ we are facing in our world today – spiritual lostness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease, and ignorance – and heralds the Church as the one God-created, God-ordained force to slay them. I couldn’t help but hear/feel his excitement about the Body of Christ as I read through his words. I also couldn’t help but recognize my own lack of enthusiasm when it comes to the Church.
I have to check myself every once in awhile. I have to take my spiritual pride (that veils itself as cynicism) and lay down again at the altar. I’m praying that God will keep His Bride radiant in my own eyes as I seek to fulfill my longing for community in the very place in which it was designed to be fulfilled.