The Messiness of Community

Community is a word that is comforting yet terrifying to many. We long for community, to be surrounded by others with a common goal and heart, to love and be loved, to laugh with others and cry with others. Yet, there is something that holds many of us back from true community, and that is vulnerability.

Why? Because we are afraid. Afraid to be completely known. Afraid of being rejected. Afraid of judgement. Afraid of getting our hearts broken.

Honestly, these are all things that can happen, and many times do happen, when we are vulnerable with people, but if we do not allow ourselves to be open and vulnerable, we can never FULLY experience love. If we’re not open and honest, how can we expect to grow? If something is worthwhile there will almost certainly be some sort of risk involved, and I think experiencing love and growth are definitely worth the risk!

C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

Being vulnerable is one of the bravest and most necessary things we can do as human beings.

I believe that being vulnerable is one of the bravest and most necessary things we can do as human beings.

Jefferson Bethke said, “To be truly human, is to be truly known.”

You may read that and say “Yes!”, yet still hide behind things like social media. We have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but how many of them know that you spend your days worrying about how you’re going to pay the rent? How many of them know that you eat your dinner alone in front of the TV every night? How many know that you dream of becoming a doctor, but can barely pass your classes? How many know why you bow your head and thank God for every meal?

I am not saying that we need to broadcast everything about our lives on social media. I am saying that we need to get into a community of people who we can interact with face-to-face-- a community of people who love each other, who believe in each other and desire to see each other grow. Paul encourages us in Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” When we’re in a community it is harder for us to hide behind false intentions and pretty masks. It’s so awesome because then we know we are kept accountable. We know that there will be someone to encourage us when we fall, and we can trust that when we are corrected it is for our good.

I’d rather take the messiness of community and possible joy, than the cleanliness of isolation and sure despair.

Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” When you take a deeper look at the word community, the prefix com- means “with” and -unity means, well, unity--oneness, unit, agreement, sameness. So community means literally “with unity” just like that psalm says, “to dwell together in unity.”

Jefferson Bethke said, “I’d rather take the messiness of community and possible joy, than the cleanliness of isolation and sure despair.” You see, we were not made to live in isolation. We were made to live WITH others. We were made to love and be loved, and the only way we can experience the true depth of that is to be vulnerable.

 

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