postmodern buzz word: "community"
why is it that community is so talked about today? it's talked about as if postmoderns were the first to think of it. i'm not critiquing the rejuvenated desire for authentic community, but i am critiquing the way it is talked about like it has never been discussed before.
dietrich bonhoeffer was a christian martyred during the second world war. he was a pastor and theologian and wrote the little book, life together: the classic exploration of faith in community. bonhoeffer wrote during the height of modernism in eastern europe and yet i bet his book would resonate deeply with postmoderns who are searching for authentic community.
the premise of his book is that community is a blessing and not everyone is so privileged to enjoy it. many christians are imprisoned or ministering in places where there are no or few christians. it immediately makes me think of my friends becoming missionaries in a muslim country where there are less than a dozen known christians in the whole country! they are going in to hostile lands in order to minister to broken people who ultimately hate their message.
but isn't this what jesus did? bonhoeffer writes this:
It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of his foes.the call of the church is to be scattered among the world. it is only when jesus comes again that scripture tells us we will be gathered together for eternity with christ and one another. until then, it is only by god's grace that we even have local bodies of christians that meet and live life together.
this begs the question...how are we doing? are we living cloistered lives, afraid to rub shoulders with the world? brothers and sisters, this is not the life that christ wants for the church. even though the disciples all deserted jesus he re-gathered them together at his resurrection and then scattered them again into the world where they might proclaim his message. yet even in this scattering, they were united to one another by the holy spirit.
this is why we need christian community - to encourage one another as we live scattered in the world. rather than our communities existing for themselves, they should be existing for the world around us. postmoderns are longing for authentic community. we claim to have what they are looking for. but if we aren't intentional about interacting with the people god has placed in our paths, how can we offer them such a community?
is your christian community a place where you can invite unbelievers into, to be a part of the community regardless of what they might believe about jesus? is your community a place where someone might be able to belong before they believe?