Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Community: Beauty in Diversity
Katie and I had a conversation the other night centered around our quest for community. On the heels of my last blog post and many conversations as of late with good friends, Katie and I have both thirsted more for a purposeful community with others. Even though to be completely honest both us do not feel that we have that right now, especially because in the next week and half we will both be moving home into our parent's houses. So we have decided that we will start taking up some of the practices that we hope our future community will take up. The first practice we are taking up is reading a book together in hopes of stirring up conversation among us that will help to both challenge our current points of view as well as help us grow. The second practice we have taken up is prayer. We hope and believe that this practice will allow us to focus our hearts and minds on God's kingdom purpose in the world and where and what he is calling us both to. Thirdly, we are in the process of seeking a church community that we can serve and worship. While this process is complicated by me looking for a job in youth ministry, we know that God has a place for us.
The goal of all of this is that wherever God might lead us, we might be people who manifest God's Kingdom of grace and love in the world. At the core of all of this conversation is our belief that Christianity is never meant to be done alone, but is meant to be done in community. After all as Christians we are to be a image of our God, who exists in prefect community as the Tri-une God. A community of people offers not only a place where the Kingdom of God can be manifested among a group of people, but a community offers a safe place of individuals to grow in their faith. As Thomas Malcolm writes, "Every person needs on safe place where he or she is able to stop pretending, a place of ruthless honesty and unconditional love where no one is allowed to fly underneath the radar." In this way community can challenge and help those within it to struggle, learn, and grow. This is why I really appreciate the intentional community that my friend Garret is a part of. His community is made up of people who in love can disagree while at the same time love each other.
It has become more evident to me that this is one thing the church in the post-modern world is really struggling with. It seems that somehow people believe that diversity equals the fear of "liberalism" or "heresy," which it does not (understand I am not advocating for a diversity in major theological tenets such as the doctrine of the trinity or who salvation is found in). Recently I was affect by this when I was denied from a church position because I was more open to a diversity of options within church ministry leadership. After being denied I was scared I was alone in my convictions among evangelicals who are not academics. Yet, the other day I was reading "The Jesus of Suburbia" by Mike Erre, pastor of a large church in Orange County. Mike Erre talked about the beauty of theological diversity among his church ministry staff. He said that it allowed for a fuller understanding of who God is. I really appreciated this. After all looking at the Church in the New Testament we can see that not everyone saw eye-to-eye. There were disagreements among Peter and Paul, arguments over what to do about Christian-Non-Jews, as well as other things. At the same time, is not our God diverse and unified in purpose at the same time? Call me liberal, even though I am not, but I think that the beauty of the church is found in a community of people that have a diversity of options. After all how else are we to grow if we all agree on everything?
So with that said, may whatever your community look like may it be a place of trust, a place of diversity, and a place of the beauty of God's worldwide Church.