“The Church is like a double edged sword. When it’s good, when it’s on, when it’s right, it’s like nothing on earth. A group of people committed to selflessly serving and loving the world around them? Great. But when it’s bad all the potential gets truned the otherway. From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Sometimes in the same week. Sometimes in the same day.”
_Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis p.172)
Even when we finally do enter into community, no matter how small the dose, we’re faced with another concern. We have to understand why we’re doing it. Why go to so much trouble? What’s it all for? Is it just for us, so we can have better lives, so we can work out all our issues? Not at all. It’s all about giving ourselves away. It’s not exclusive, not self seeking but inclusive and missional. It shares in God’s goal for the whole world not just for them.
One reason community is so dangerous, so risky, is because even when you actually do it you can do it wrong. If community loses sight of why it exists it can become a disaster. The theological trajectory of the Bible is all about community but it’s also all about bringing existence back into harmony as it was in the beginning. Community shares the same trajectory. Essentially what you are doing in community is embracing that kind of harmony and actually living it out. Now what if we become exclusive? What if our goal is not for the world but just for ourselves? What if we live in community but seclude that community to itself? It’s a lot more dangerous than you might think. We can be like the community in Laodicea; “lukewarm,” motionless, and useless (Revelation 3:16). In the end community is not about picking a few people to live with but it’s about partnering to change the world and to bring the entire world into the sort of honesty, simplicity, and beauty that you are trying to live out.
The only reason we live in community at all is because we are on a mission. We’re on a mission together. Living in obedience, purity, and simplicity are means to an end and that end is God’s end; the end that God has in mind which is actually a new beginning. Who are we to call people to a new kind of life if we are not seeking to live it ourselves?
When authentic community comes together with a mission it is powerful. It’s the kind of thing that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. This is why we reveal ourselves honestly and live life in community; trusting and depending on each other. It’s not just for us but for the world. We become broken before each other so that the world might be mended.