The Paradox Of Community

I’ve been avoiding sermons at the church I still attend. Mostly this is by attending less, but sometimes it is by being late, or being occupied during the service (for instance, I sometimes cook for the evening service meal). And sometimes I can’t really avoid it, like yesterday when I was rostered on to play in the service.

The message was about Church Discipline and by a guest preacher (story for another time). He used the familiar passage in 1 Corinthians about Paul’s admonishment to the church at Corinth. Most of the message was fairly predictable, and the guest enlivened it with some good anecdotes (being somewhat itinerant probably helped him do that). The last point he made, though, was quietly bothering me for quite a while. It was about how Christians need to spend time with other Christians so we encourage godly habits amongst each other – not his actual words, but I wasn’t taking notes.

I’ve only just realized what was bothering me about this. Christians need to be out in the world, too, or they get insular and disconnected from the world. Bill Hybels knows this: that’s why he said in his “Walk Across The Room” seminar that in a social setting Christians should be outnumbered by two-to-one. It is, of course, the insularity of Christian groups which made me look outside.

Community is good, of course. But it can be deadly, too. Radical beliefs of any sort flourish with the strong positive feedback of a closed, focussed community.

I wish the guest preacher had had time to leaven that part of his message.


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