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Grow Up

June 29, 2010

by Scott E. McGhee

Community is a big buzz word these days. Everywhere you go, whether religious or not, people are talking about it – building the ideal community, what community should look like, or how they do not think that something in the vein of community can ever actually be achieved. We are told that God exists in perfect community with Himself and that He desires that same kind of community with us, but with all of this talking, can community actually exist? Is it all just talk?

Over the last four years or so I have lived where there has really been no community at all. I have experienced people who claimed to be the strongest sort of community only to realize that what they claim to be is nothing but an elaborate hoax.

Apostle Paul has a lot to say about this concept of community. In his letter to the Ephesians, he has some often overlooked truths about what a real community actually is. He writes “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

He is saying that we need to grow up, that we need to help each other do that, that Christ is our model and that is what a community does. That is how it works. Confused? Yeah, me too. But when we stop and actually look at what he is telling us, it doesn’t seem so intimidating.

Christ is our model for community. He did it perfectly. He was perfect, so that should not come as a surprise. He is also the one that holds everything together as we go try to figure things out.

He says that this process of growing up happens when we are working as we were designed, “according to the proper working of each individual part.” I think this is where community falls short to the greatest degree. So many of us are so unsure or how we were designed to work. We do not know where we fit into the body, but because he includes that part at the end of the statement about the body (community) “building itself up in love” I cannot help but wonder if part of what community is supposed to do is help each other figure out where we each fit, what our proper working is, then once we figure that part out (or think we have) encourage each other in that role.

Imagine what your life would look like if the people you call your community would take an active role in helping you figure out where you fit and you helped them do the same. Then imagine what would happen if you all would begin to live inside of that role while continuing to encourage and assist others as they learn to figure out their role. When you stop to think about it, the possibilities of what community could look like then are endless. It becomes okay to not understand where you fit as long as you are active in looking for that place and allowing input from the people around you. It then becomes expected that you will be active in the lives of the people around you building them up, helping them as they do the same for you and the people around them.

I do not think that anyone can entirely sum up all that is community, but I think that if we were to start here, looking to Christ as our model to help each other figure out where we fit in the body, and encouraging each other to live and operate where we were designed by God to fit, then we would have a really good starting point to continue to live the way God desires for us to live.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 8, 2010 9:42 PM

    I just re-read this and you did a great job unpacking such an expansive and loaded topic. I love your last sentence/paragraph – you said it better than I ever could have!

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