It's a Small World After All
Recently, I was talking with someone about connections. You know what I mean: you're talking to someone and you realize that you know their third grade teacher and your parents went to school together and your favorite co-worker from your last job is their cousin. All of a sudden, the world seems smaller, everyone seems connected. This is community.
We talk about this all the time in church and small groups and I talk about it over dinner with friends, or, sometimes, even strangers. Sometimes it all comes together and community comes easy. Sometimes we have to work at it, like stretching a muscle. We have the capacity, but we're out of practice.
What community really comes down to, for me, is accountability. We can live our lives in a vacuum, making decisions in such a way that no one has the right to speak into our lives, to call us on our excess or our emotional or spiritual poverty. We can keep people at arms length and pretend that we don't need each other. But we do. We were created to encourage, to need help in our humanity. God is great and He comforts and encourages us, but He also places us in a community to nurture us, to love us and to challenge us.
After college, I went from an "intentional community" where I often felt alone, to a hometown where I had to work to have relationships. Now, we're all caught up in each others' lives and I know their struggles, their joys, their hopes. We encourage, we pray for each other, we ask difficult questions. I'm not good at it all yet, but I think this just might be community.
I had the opportunity to interview a young man from Bhutan the other night. I was nervous that I wouldn't know what questions to ask, that I wouldn't be able to communicate well. But then, he started talking about how he became a Christian, the talks he has with his girlfriend, his love for his sister and what he wants to do in the future. Something clicked and we just started talking, two members of a community.