Friday, June 15, 2007

Between We and Me

There has been a lot of talk and writing about community in the last couple of years. It seems that in the usual pendulum shift, things slide from one side to the other. For much of my childhood and earlier adulthood, much of the focus of Christianity was on the singular. The I. Most of what we heard was about Jesus being your personal savior or having a personal relationship with Jesus. And that's not...bad as far as it goes. The Bible never talks about Jesus being a personal Savior but that doesn't mean there's not an aspect of that to faith.

However, much of the shift came when people started realizing that focusing on "me" and personal morality (and the personal morality of others) became extremely narcissistic. When all the focus is on yourself, others become a bother. And in fact this kind of attitude can lead not just to narcissism but even to misogyny misanthropy (thanks, Kat). People become such a both that you can resent them. And so to react against that, people have been focusing back onto community. Trying to find community and interacting with that. So small groups and the larger worship time/experience have gained a renewed sense of purpose in the lives of Christians.

The funny thing though is that even this has a downside. It can become so easy to get caught up into the group, or even fade into the group, that the personal becomes lost. There is a sense where we have to be aware of the personal, but also realize our place in community. It's one of the reasons I think Jesus took time to be alone. He was always in community with this followers and the closer circle of the 12 that I wonder if he broke away to spend nights alone and in prayer. If that was to not only talk to the Father, but also to "re-center" himself and touch base with that personal side of things.

Pendulums are easy to ride, mainly because there's not much work to do. You just hold on and enjoy the ride. The hard part is to try and stop the pendulum and find a happy medium. I've said before that "Christianity is an intensely personal experience that is only properly done in community." And that's the medium; that's where we find middle ground between the personal and the community.

7 comments:

Kat Coble said...

This is a terrific post! I love it.

One question, though.

Did you perhaps mean "misanthropy" instead of "misogyny"--or does narcissism lead only toward resenting women? ;-p

judy thomas said...

So glad we waked up to community. That is what those who "get their relationship with God in nature" are missing. Miss Judy

Southern Beale said...

Good post. Community is the essence of Christianity, IMHO. It's not an "I" thing, it's definitely a "we" thing. When Jesus said to Peter "Feed my sheep" there's a reason he used the plural.

Elizabeth S said...

While I still think there is something to the personal responsiblility, community is what gets me through, what I lean on.

Clarissa said...

Nice, long hiatus there, brother!

Good post. I can't imagine my life without community, however screwed-up they or I may be at times. The Lusk boys and I are working on a new song and I SOOOOO want to post the words here because this is exactly what the song's about. But they'd probably send henchmen for me.
(All in fun, folks.)

Kat Coble said...

When Jesus said to Peter "Feed my sheep" there's a reason he used the plural.


Isn't the singular of "sheep", well, "sheep"?

preacherman said...

Phil,
I am glad that I ventured across your blog. This is definately a great post. We must have community if we are going to be the disciples that Jesus has called us to be. I am looking forward to reading more of your future posts.

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