Hey everyone, this is the last part of the Community series. If you missed, here’s Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Jimmy will be finishing it off today. As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us regarding this important topic. Take it away, Jimmy!
Let me first off apologize to all of you non-sports followers out there for my use of a sports analogy. In many different sports, the phrase “defense wins championships” is used to emphasize the foundational importance of building a sports team with a sound defensive philosophy. The idea is that scoring a lot of points in any given game is fun for both the participant and the fan watching, but if you want to really succeed in that sport (e.g. win the superbowl), the key is to be able to stop your opponent!
While this paradigm might work in sports, I would say that it takes both offense and defense to build community. In part 3, we explored the offensive side of building community by looking at 3 points. These include how to foster community by moving past the bridge, sharing our dirty laundry, and taking real time to build real community. Let’s close this topic of community by exploring 3 ways we often hinder its development in our lives. Now let’s play some DEFENSE!!
The Perfect Facade…
Facade- an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality (google)
If Christ-like community is about bringing down walls, maintaining a perfect facade is about putting them up. Can we all just go ahead and be in agreement that there is NO SUCH THING as PERFECTION?! Whether it be how clean the house is, how perfectly plated the food is or how seemingly harmonious the relationship may seem, no one and nothing is perfect. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that our homes shouldn’t be clean and well kept, but it’s about our motivation and priority. Of course we spend time cleaning and prepping food for the sake of hospitality but do we also spend time preparing how to ensure the evening together will be focused on encouragement or edification? Are we as intentional in planning the words that will be spoken as we are the food that will be served? One way that Yuni and I have been practicing defense against the perfect facade is to spend at least a few minutes discussing the topic of discussion or reason why we are inviting a particular couple of group of people over for an evening. I think we also have to ask ourselves, “Am I trying to maintain an appearance that isn’t a credible reality?” It’s impossible to maintain the perfect facade and seek to build community because you’ll always be keeping people at an arm’s length away.
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-21
Unforgiveness… not a word, but definitely a barrier to Christ-like Community!
So obviously there are A LOT of variables in play when it come to forgiveness and community. For the sake of this discussion, we’ll be talking about forgiveness after which being in the same community is still the appropriate path. Credit to Pastor William at Karis. It was his teaching this past Sunday that convicted me to include the topic of unforgiveness. If your reading this, it’s very possible that I don’t know you that well. But I can tell you one thing that I know for sure. If we were to get to know each other, there would be a point in time where I would disappoint you and likely a point in time where you would disappoint me. In that time of disappointment, unmet expectation, insensitivity or any multitude of causes of hurt between two people, we all face the choice to either forgive or not. I’m not saying forgiveness is easy or that we should just forgive and ignore the importance of healing. But I do believe that the in-ability to forgive is a direct barrier to establishing Christ-like community. In fact, unforgiveness actively will drive a wedge between people. We must defend ourselves against unforgiveness by both constantly renewing our minds of the priceless forgiveness that we’ve been shown through Jesus and regularly practicing forgiveness to those around us.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Mine, Mine, Mine…
A Christ-like community is generous with one another. If we always see our immediate needs as the highest priority, then we’ll never be generous with our community. Notice, I included the word always. As a husband and parent, one of my primary callings is to steward the people that God has put in my care, obviously my family. However, I don’t take that to mean that my family’s needs are always the highest priority and should always be met before the needs of another. In fact, I owe it to my children to teach them generosity by modeling it for them. If our needs always take priority over the needs of our community, we don’t allow the glue of generosity to build the bonds necessary for Christ-like community. Brothers and sisters, defend yourselves against the priority of self by actively and regularly practicing costly service.
One of the most insidious things about succumbing to one of the many ways we hinder community (and there are many more than what I’ve listed) is that we put ourselves into an invisible prison. When we allow the perfect facade to take hold in our lives, we don’t have the space to consider others because we are too busy maintaining the prison of that unreachable perfect facade. When we allow unforgiveness to take hold in our lives, we don’t have the capacity to both receive and accept forgiveness because we have to maintain the prison of our hurt and injustice. When we must always meet our needs before the needs of others, we are trapped in the rut of our own insatiable desires and miss out on the fulfilling and worthy pursuit of serving and pouring into others.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Phillippians 2:3-4
Christ-like community doesn’t have to be limited to a group of believers. It’s very attractive compared to what our culture offers and is an amazing way to share the author of this genuine community… CHRIST! Brothers and sisters, I urge you to develop and practice Christ-like community. If you don’t have it in your life today, seek it out. If you have it, continue to practice it.
In his grip,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:4 -6