The Funny Thing About Community (by Jessica Francis)
Growing up, my mom used to always say that God gave me good eye sight to make up for my poor sense of direction. Now, I’m not entirely sure that’s the way God was thinking about things, but that thought has always stuck with me. When I’m lost (which is very common for me) and frustrated with my (lack of) sense of direction, I am actually more grateful for my eyesight.
Just recently, I have begun to think about how this way of thinking applies to my understanding of community. The bible tells us that we are to live in community with one another. Romans 12:5 says “… so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” If our community (or church) represents one body, then we are supposed to function in light of each others’ differences and flaws. And we are meant to function in a way that shows the love of Christ to the world, for it says in John 13:35 that “your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Now as selfish individuals, it can be extremely difficult to appreciate the differences, be they strengths or weaknesses, that exist between ourselves and our brothers and sisters in our church community. But I think that if we are grateful for our differences, then they actually strengthen our love for one another… thus exemplifying Christ’s love to the world.
Think of it this way. I am an introvert. I love people, but people wear me out. Because of that, I can become frustrated with extreme extroverts and my tendency might be to distance myself from people who are not introverts just like me. But if I‘m focused on being part of my community, rather than my own personal agenda, I am grateful for my brothers and sisters that are extroverts. I can see how our differences, when combined, form a strong body.
This shift in perspective is uncomfortable, especially in light of the individualism that is worshipped by our US society. But when I can embrace this new perspective, I am so grateful that God has chosen my brothers and sisters to fill the roles that I cannot fill. And because I am so grateful for their uniqueness from me, I am better able to love them the way that I am supposed to. I can see them as one body, of which I am just one part, and only by functioning together can we show the love of Christ to the world.