Originally posted on Naked Pastor’s ‘What Hold’s Us Together’ blog.
“It can only be love, mutual love, that holds a relationship or a community together” (NP)
I really liked the blog and tackling an issue about what holds community together – and from my experience also – love is the great glue. I have a community of friends I work with at the university – and we are all good friends now. How did we get to this place of commonality? We all started to get to know one another and we genuinely care about one another now (celebrating successes and dealing with issues of concern in mindful ways). Community is strengthened by love and I would say divided by judgment.
As for authentic acceptance – well this is also a piece of love. We all have at our most basic need to idea we want ‘to belong’ and ‘be accepted’…this is an obvious human desire from childhood to seniority. Love starts with acceptance and without it we have, again division.
I think communities need to address the huge problem in our faith of divisivness – which is an idea so prevelant in our theologies we even see it on blog-spaces and over the pulpits. I would say mainstream Christianity has at it’s heart exclusivity that is sometimes used as a reason to not accept certain people or even draw self-righteous lines between groups. I think we need to lose those theologies of divisiveness.
If I treat my community of friends certain ways based on their beliefs – I am not a Christian anymore nor am I truly sharing ‘good news/ideas’ with them. Truth is, my community of friends are from a variety of religious backgrounds with a variety of different thinking patterns – and sometimes those patterns are not helpful to them. If I become exclusive about my faith – I will literally cut my community into fractured pieces and lose friends (and love will dissipate). When the essence of our faith is inclusion and sharing (good news) with one another – then so should our focus be there. Jesus may be the ‘way’ – I am convinced he is not the way to destruction.
The key in all of this is acceptance and mercy/justice. Fishon raises a good point of the pilfering treasurer (sounds similar to a biblical character who hung himself) and what should be done. This happens to me all the time – currently I have about 5 to 10 people that owe me $50.00 or more in my local community of friends. What should I do fishon – you tell me? Take them before the court? I can judge them – I have the right – they have wronged me. But what has Jesus taught us?
“Blessed are the meek/gentle, for they shall inherit the earth”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”
Maybe there is another ‘way’ of living here that needs to be considered in my personal community – one that is gentle, merciful, and peaceful. People can be judged for the way they have used me (stolen from me) – or I can turn around and change the whole experience they expect – and love them regardless of the condition the relationships are currently are in. They may have stolen from me – but I will be gentle enough to allow the problems to be learned from. I will have mercy on the undeserving – because I also want to see mercy. I will make peace where there is difficulty – since money is just money – but people are truly priceless. This is why the community I am in involved in works – we love one another – even when the chips are slanted against us.
***Side-note – I am not part of a church community – this is a community of friends I have developed over my time of service in the Aboriginal business and student communities throughout my city.