Community is by design, what we are all wired for. COMMON UNITY among a group of people is a beautifully splendid thing. It is also a very rare thing. You see, God knows that the common unity found in community with Him and those around us is the best place to be. It’s where life is found. It’s where we as people are strongest. That’s why deep down, it’s what we all desire, what we are all chasing after even if we don’t know it yet.
But why is it such an elusive thing? In my life I have found community on a few occasions, some ending in glorious destruction, others still alive today. Those that live are the ones that even through time and space thrive and well up memories of wondrous days gone by and too the hope of glory ahead.
The thing about community is that it’s a delicate balance of spontaneity, order and most of all, hard work. The early days of finding a group of people that are genuinely happy to know you and you’re genuinely happy to know are the magical days where intrigue and commonality rule the day. It’s a time of getting to know one another and allowing at times vulnerable insights into one other’s lives. Inevitably these days are numbered, relationships are forged, friendships solidify and life in real community begins.
I remember my final year in college a community was formed in a really diverse group of my classmates. We were all tied by the common bond of a capstone management course that was well rumored to be the end all and be all for college of business students. It was a time when we were all in the mists of leaving lives of extended adolescence and entering adulthood. We were equipped with our new found knowledge of business and we were set to conquer the world. We spent countless hours dissecting existing corporate strategies and financial data in order to formulate our own greater and more lucrative mock plans for America’s greatest companies. It was indeed exhilarating to each of us as dreams of corporate domination danced in our heads. Needless to say, it was fertile ground for some great relationships to begin, and indeed one did. I met and fell in love with Anna in that community.
I wish all my community stories could end with such grandeur, but unfortunately things don’t always end so great. As I said before, I’ve known glory and glorious disaster. In community, ultimately life happens, people have confrontations, feelings get hurt and sides are taken, it’s just the natural order of things and there really is nothing to keep it from happening. So in healthy communities, the next phase of growth occurs. Direction and authority has to be given in order to keep the group moving forward. This can be a dangerous place. If members of the community don’t understand authority and vision, they will become overburdened and frustrated and most likely leave the group. For Christians this should be an easy one. The vision is always Jesus, the cornerstone that holds us the Church together. But often we can’t see the forest from the trees for the burden of leadership. Leadership has to bare the weight of keeping people moving forward and finding that commonality and dream ahead of the group. They have to enforce the rules that will keep the group safe from self-destruction and they have to do it all in the highest most diplomatic and service oriented way possible. Otherwise, they and the group will suffer. What most people don’t realize is this is often a very lonely and onerous place. Leaders often carry the weight of the community as both the shepherd to those who love them and wolf to those who don’t. The rules, authority and accountability to all are a heavy load and true leaders will always carry them with dignity and respect.
For those that have found community and have sacrificed self and submitted to the will of authority and that of the group, community is a beautiful place. It’s a place where those gathered have set aside their own personal motives and agendas for the good of each other. It’s a place where we can find like-minded people to help raise our families. It’s a place to go deep in heart to heart conversations. It’s a place to have your feelings hurt and then find forgiveness and steadfast friendship. It’s a place where your best friends call you out when you’re out of line because they love you and your family and they don’t want to see you hurt. It’s a place that feels like home. Find that community folks, it’s so worth the fight.