Hi everyone. Rob here.
Last week I got called up for jury service and ended up being on a jury for a 6 day trial. One of the things that the judge kept insisting on was that our collective common sense and life experience would be enough to make a good decision. Sure enough, we worked well as a team, helped each other understand the evidence, showed patience as others caught up and, in the end, made, I believe, a sound decision. It reminded me afresh that life is meant to be lived in community. The give and take, the mutual respect, the patience and perseverance that we showed as a jury is meant to be the norm. It’s what we were made for. Every person needs to be honoured as an individual, but they also need to be part of a greater whole.
If you don’t have the honouring, you don’t get the community. If people don’t feel valued by the community, then they will distance themselves from the community, or, seek to control it. The difficulty is that there are all sorts of reasons why people don’t feel honoured and we can’t always predict what they may be. People’s wounds come from many different sources and show up in a multitude of ways.
So, as individuals, one of the best things we can do for our community is to allow the Holy Spirit to examine our lives, name our wounds and bring healing to our wounded places. Let’s give permission for the Spirit to bring us to a deep and true repentance for our wrongdoings. Let’s drop the poser and be vulnerable enough to need each other. Let’s come out of hiding and take our place in the community, knowing that we are needed. Let’s remember that we need a loving community to help us become truly ourselves as we walk with God together.
What’s your community? Where’s the place where you interact with others in a way that makes you a better person and a more wholehearted follower of Jesus Christ? For many of you, I hope that place is a local church. I hope that you’ve found a community that’s safe, inspiring, seeking, Spirit-led and Christ-focused, with a humility that makes them dependent on grace. But for some of you that isn’t church in the traditional sense. For some of you it’s a 12 step community like AA or NA. For some of you it’s a small group or house church. For some of you it’s your support group. But as long as there’s people, God’s Spirit, vulnerability and hope, you’re in a good place. Just know that it might not be your only place.
Churches can be good, and many are. So please don’t make any agreements about churches being the problem. Institutionalized power can be a problem. Spiritual abuse can be a problem. False beliefs can be a problem. Misogyny and racism are definitely problems. But church? Church belongs to God. He’s building his Church he tells us. Churches have problems but Church is not the problem. Instead, let us all start with the mirror. Let us allow the Spirit to examine our lives. Let’s seek healing, help and hope. Let’s become part of the solution, because, ultimately, churches and communities need people of grace in order to become gracious; they need people of hope in order to become hopeful, and they need people of love in order to become loving. May that be us.
Grace and peace everyone.