"To be intimate with others is to reveal our innermost selves to them, including our emotions, thoughts and desires. For such deep sharing of the soul and spirit to occur, people must respect and trust each other. ... In a world controlled by sin, however, to choose to be intimate is to choose to be hurt. Yet Jesus calls us to this kind of intimacy with Him and with one another."~ Kenneth A. Schmidt ~
My local church body has been faced with a crisis recently. Three weeks ago, I wondered how this crisis would affect our body. Would people leave the church in disillusionment? Would it cause young believers' faith to weaken? Would this crisis bring us to our knees or would we respond with gossip, anger and disunity?
We've all been hurt by the sin of another and we can choose to build up walls imagining that we can protect our hearts from further pain, or we can continue to open up our lives to others, placing our trust in God. Our church has chosen to draw together, to seek the Lord together and to confess our sins to each other.
The word community brings to mind a utopia of fellowship, friendship and caring. But it also represents the reality of unforgiveness, prickly people, intrusions on privacy, annoyances, bitterness, stubbornness, personality quirks, and well, to put it simply: sin. As John Ortberg says, Everybody's normal until you get to know them.
When we interact honestly with the people of God, we come face to face with all that stuff in the Bible about kindness, loving your neighbor (and enemy), compassion and the golden rule. It looks good on paper, but putting it into practice can be challenging. It's easy to love those who are lovable, but Jesus didn't give us that qualifier, did He?
I'm happy to say that my church body has shown true community through this crisis. People have jumped at the chance to serve one another and join together to do God's work. It has also caused us to draw closer together in intimacy. Hiding sins and keeping our weaknesses to ourselves is no longer an option. We have become courageous about admitting our need for the support of the body. Without accountability and encouragement, we cannot move forward in our individual walks with the Lord or as a community.
It's scary to bring our deepest needs to another person. The only way we can overcome that fear is through a trustworthy and respectful environment. We take our tender hearts and place them nervously in the hands of another only when we put our ultimate trust in God. People will disappoint us and even hurt us, but our God is the protector of our hearts.
Jesus said that the world would know that we are different, that we belong to Him, because of our true loving community. I hope that my little town can see Jesus' love in our hurting body right now, because it is beautiful.
Bonnie is our host for "In other words" this week.