Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beautifully Messy Community

I received another Ask RC in my email this morning.  In reading his answer to the question, "What is community?"*, I recalled telling Michael quite a while back that it's easier when you first become involved in a church.  At that point, you're learning everyone's names & personalities; everyone, including yourself, is on their best behavior.  But, then, relationships form.  You get to know people on a deeper, more intimate level, & things start to get messy.  You discover that - shocker! - these people are sinners.  And what's more, you rediscover that you are, too.  This is the perfect time to trash those rose-colored glasses & stand firm!  We'd like to think that a perfect church has no sinners & that everything goes smoothly with very little to no conflict.  But that's not reality.  Reality is that people get angry.  People get their feelings hurt.  People misunderstand something you've said.  People feel left out.  People are impatient.  And when reality hits us upside the head, we're tempted to judge & possibly even walk away in search of a better church filled with holier people.  Don't make that mistake.  Realize that all churches are made up of sinners.  The difference is whether those sinners are ignoring their sin & putting on a false veneer of politeness or are striving for holiness & working on forgiveness & love as a body.  Here is where you'll find true community, an honest fellowship of believers who are living life in all of its messiness & imperfection together - believers who are "work[ing] out [their] salvation with fear & trembling" & living lives that "are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved & among those who are perishing".  As R.C. says, "You can have this too.  All it takes is a willingness to allow things to get a little messy. A willingness to allow time to slow down. All it takes is a willingness to give. All you have to do is die."

*I'm actually having trouble finding this particular "Ask RC" on the site.  Hopefully, that's because he just wrote it & it's not up yet.  If you want to see the whole thing & it's not materializing on his site, let me know & I'll post it in its entirety.