Friday, April 12, 2013

Having Nothing and Everything in Common


You have to wonder what Jesus was thinking when he chose His apostles. There were the boorish fishermen, who could have probably fit in well on the Duck Dynasty show. There was Thomas, a skeptic. Then you have the odd pair of Simon, a zealot and Matthew, a tax collector. Matthew's occupation was to collect taxes for the same Roman government that Simon was committed to overthrowing. This is all not to mention Judas Iscariot, a crook and a traitor. Could Jesus have possibly assembled a more perfect mess of personalities?

Community is a hard thing. Sure, it's fun to see other cultures for a few days at a time, or to pose for a few snapshots with a local. But learning to get along with one group in one place for many years is quite a different experience.

G.K. Chesterton had good thoughts on the dynamics that we experience in a smaller community like a congregation:
The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.

Jesus had a way of picking the harder path to travel. His vision for the Church was a united vision (John 17:20-21). Yet the unity He desired would occur between people so different from each other that only something as strong as the love of God could bring them together. If we have Christ in common, we have all things in common. The challenge for us is to embrace and embody this vision. It not easy love, but difficult love which reveals that this narrow path we are on is truly the heavenly path. God has chosen for us a community of people He dearly loves. Let us love each other as He has loved us.

2 comments:

Sheila said...

That's a wonderful quote by Chesterton; I had not read or heard it before. So much truth there, as I think about the differences between the small churches I was part of in Europe (at one time it was a group of fewer than twenty meeting in a garage) and the larger churches I've been part of in the States. Of course there are blessings in both, but I sometimes think the greater growth occurred in the smaller churches, precisely because of what you point out here.

Mark said...

Hey Sheila! Thanks for your comment...sorry I was so slow in moderating. I haven't blogged as much in a while as I used to.