Sunday, May 17, 2009

People Who Need People, Part 1

Animals fascinate me, as you well know. Very rarely do you see animals as isolated creatures; the majority of them live in packs or herds or schools or swarms. They are built relationally, communally. It is intrinsic to their very nature to be in groups, to be together. If they are separated from the group, they will die. This is understood for them. 

Interestingly enough, most people groups know this truth as well. They live in close-knit communities - tribes, clans, households. The identity of one person is bound up in the corporate identity. The two-thirds world (as the "third-world" is apparently now known as) understands the meaning, reality, and necessity of living communally and relationally. Almost every other people group in the world outside of North America and Western Europe live like this today. And even in America, hermits/reclusive people are seen as "social outcasts" - the weird ones. 

We are who we are only in relationship to others. No matter where I go, whether there are people around or I'm on a deserted island, I am and forever will be the daughter of Don and Juanita, the sister of Heather and Rachael, friend of Emily and Matt, college roommate of Adina. I am who I am in relationship to these people. We all are. 

Though community and relationality are seen all around us, why does the American mind refuse to see itself in terms of relationship? Why specifically does the American church fail to see itself as community? As the body of Christ? All too often, the American church is seen as "a church is often seen as a voluntary association made up of religious individuals whose allegiance lies elsewhere." (Drs. Brad Harper & Paul Metzger, Exploring Ecclesiology) Yet, that's not what we were designed for. 

We are designed and created for community, for relationship. It is who we are. 
How then do we live like it?

3 comments:

JD said...

great question. and i have no idea.

you should read "the irresistible revolution" by shane claiborne and visit some of the websites he offers. one of them is a blog about how families live communally. check it out!

Emily said...

preach it sister!

Jamie said...

How then do we live like that?
*I think its by intentionally making it a priority. Investing in the lives of people - even when it doesn't feel comfortable. Becoming vulnerable. Admitting your humanity. Truly loving other people, not in word, but action. I think it is a choice we make every day. Do I connect with people, do I give others (& myself) the proper value & worth that Jesus does or do I chose to be an island unto myself?

For me, this doesn't come easy. But the more often I chose to reach out, be real & honest, show the love of Christ, then the more natural it feels. By doing this & making it my "mo" I am cultivating deeper, more meaningful relationships that are based on things that truly matter & are lasting.

Sheesh - don't get me started on community! :)