Friday, March 14, 2008

What Is - To What Could Be

This post is a reflection of what I see when I think of Christians in general who seem to be missing out on real community.

I think that we are people who desire to have true fellowship and true community. I am reminded of the TV show, Little House On The Prairie, as a small poor community in the 1800’s come together in the worst of times and in the best of times. Even if they meet together in a building every Sunday, the community of people always seem to come together all the time helping, hurting and loving together as a real true community. No one really seems out of place and doesn’t feel like anyone could be apart of this community. Each person has a place and a part in this community and without each person this community would be incomplete. This community called Walnut Grove welcomes everyone to their community and always-offers wonderful hospitality to anyone who drops in. Everyone knows everyone and it wasn’t looked at as a bad thing, but a good thing as they acted upon love for everyone regardless of situations.

I love that show and as I watch it, it is a healthy reminder of what true community really honestly looks like. However, in this day and age, we live completely different. We don’t depend on each other and find hope in each other. We go to Sunday services with the same people but always leave without hardly any interaction with others. We don’t connect to anyone for the fear of becoming too vulnerable. We live as if we are alone on this planet and no one could understand or relate to our practical and spiritual problems. We strive on faking our way through life so our true selves never become exposed.

Can you imagine how different life would be like if we all actually depended on each other as brothers and sisters, and shared our hearts openly without any hesitation? Trusting each other with our lives, and knowing that we are all in this life together living for God. I think the only way that this is even possible is if we were all stranded on a disserted Island and had no other choice than to help and protect each other from danger and learn to live together for each other. Then we could possibly see what a true community could look like!

This reminds me of another TV show called LOST. In this show a large number of people get in a plane crash on an Island and are forced to protect and take care of each other. They then discover that there are ‘Others’ on the Island that want to hurt them. They are then forced to take care of each other and keep each other from danger. They struggle with trusting each other though and that tries to get in the way of what is more important, the community that is formed, or their own individual. It is an intense show, and I love it. It really defines what real community looks like if we had no other choice.

What can we honestly do to change what this Christian system is, to what a Christian community could be? Nothing?!


Walking Church said...

Christian Community should be more like the Waltons....
Good night Laurie
Good night Bob
Good night Bino
Good night Nicole
Good night Aida
Good night. . .

Laurie said...


Laurie said...

I guess that shouldn't be my only comment. But that was funny. But yeah, a family. How do we keep forgetting that?

Nothing like a little adversity to cause people to depend on one another. I think the Christian Community has forgotten what it is all about and what we see happening generally now is not what will be. The Lord will build His house. We must keep our eyes fixed on the only One who can make it happen. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord."

But I do think you need a second job like you were telling me the other day. You're watching an awful lot of TV these days. ;)

Nicole said...

LOL! Yeah I know! I do watch a lot of shows, but hey, look on the bright side, I am learning things from them that others probably wouldn't learn!

Yes, the Christain Community is a family, and a group of people who share life together and it is so easy to forget that.

It also reminds me of what the disciples had with Jesus in the Gospels. I think that was a good analogy or picture for us to remember what the Church looks like...

When I was writing this post, I was also reminded of something that goes along with the Christian community. As people have their roles in movies or shows, they form their own character, there own identity, and without that character or role, the show or movie is be incomplete. Now just like Father's family. We all have our own gifts of the Spirit, some are the same as others, but some are different, and together as a family, we complete the picture that God has created (God's family). I think that is the key to having a Christian Community in the first place. We all edify the Body with the gifts that Father has given each of us individually. In order to be a family, we must live out our specific roles Father has given us. That is how I see it. That does not mean that we have to change who we are to become that role, but just who you are defines what that role is.

Any thoughts about the gifts?

Matthew said...

this stuff scares me! lol I want it, but it's so scary to be vulnerable and involved with other people. I'm one that needs to be pushed into opening up. I'm usually very stubborn. :)

I love the idea of everyone being a close family, but it's also something that definitely does not happen overnight. There is no recipe for relationships. Relationships, I think, can't be programmed. I mean that you can't map it out and make a job out of it. It has to be real.

Am I making sense? lol

Great post, Nicole!! I love how open and loving you are. It encourages me to step out and be more affectionate. (not that I've mastered it yet!)

Nicole said...


You make complete sense brother.

Relationships do take time, a lot of time, but, during that time it is worth every effort you put into it. Relationships do take work as well, and effort on both parties, but, if you think that relationships are important than it is well worth the time and effort that you spend on them.

It is real easy to become scared when you are talking about releasing your true self and becoming vulernable and completely exposed to others. However, I know for me, that I try not to focus on the risk that is involved when in the process of being real. I focus on the possibilities of discovering a new life. It is one of my greatest passions (aside from coffee :) is to get to know others and in return have the ability to be as real as possible. Yeah, if you think about how "SCARY" this is, it is scary, but, if you focus on how edifying it is, not only to yourself, but to the others that are involved, it becomes more fulfilling and God centered than you can ever imagine!

I am glad you're encouraged, and take your time to be yourself, for that is all you need to be....

In Freedom, Nicole!

rob horton said...

why settle for a "christian" community? how about a human community that transcends the tribalism often associated with creed, etc.


Laurie said...

"I don't think the "christian" community that we're talking about here has anything to do with "tribalism". That is what the current christian culture and community typically operates like these days but we're talking about genuine spiritual fellowship with other folks who believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and King. You just don't get that with folks who don't believe. I can love and help those who don't believe and enjoy their company and friendship and even learn from and be blessed by them but I don't ever seem to experience real, true spiritual fellowship with them and often find that there's a hindrance in talking about and sharing my relationship with the one person who is most important to me -- Jesus Christ.

It says in Galatians, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." I think we're to love all people and do good to all people and invest in the lives of all people (as the Spirit leads) but Jesus says that all men will know that we are His disciples by the love we show one another. Why would that even matter if we're all just one big happy human family? What difference would it make if anyone acknowledged Him because they saw His love in me?

I think the new testament is full of indications that God makes a distinction between those who believe and those who don't and has called us to have a shared experience type of a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ (that we're not going to get with others) but not that we are to then function as some exclusive, elitist club."

rob horton said...


i do think i have experienced deep fellowship with people who don't profess to associate with jesus. yes, some who don't profess to associate with jesus might not be interesting in spending a large portion of time talking about jesus, but i bet if you asked them what is presently stirring in their hearts and minds you might find that some beautiful things might me taking place (even if they do not frame those things in the context of "god/father is teaching me...").

i agree with you regarding what you are seeing in the "new testament" text. paul does come across very sectarian. he appears to have moved from the pharisee sect to the nazarene sect. in that context he reportedly claimed that only those who recognized jesus as the messiah are true jews (circumcised in heart).

i wonder if paul had been trying to kill a different group of people he would have had the experience he reportedly had on the damascus road - or is it only when people are trying to kill christians that jesus intervenes and communicates "why are you persecuting me"? (just a thought i had recently)

your comment actually seems to prove my point about tribalism. you are claming that only one group of people on earth exists with whom you can have genuine spiritual fellowship - is not this the ultimate exclusive tribe?

i totally empathize with what you are sharing. it is very consistent with an attempt to let the christian-bible function in an authoritative fashion.

peace to you and yours,

Laurie said...

It seems you assume that I don't have close relationships with "those who don't profess to associate with Jesus" when in fact many (if not most) of my current associations are with people who not only don't profess but adamantly deny His existence. I enjoy wonderful friendships with these people and thought that I indirectly alluded to this in my comments. We've had very good conversations and I appreciate much of what they share concerning their feelings or what they are learning through their lives or in their hearts. What I find lacking in these relationships is a freedom to even mention the person of Jesus Christ as an answer to what one might be going through in life. Or if I happen to be sorting through or wrestling with something relating to faith there isn't a freedom to share this part of me with them without feeling that I might be stepping on their unbelieving toes and end up offending. There's no freedom to stop and say, "hey, can we pray," when there's a need. I miss that. But then again it was a rare find when I used to be part of the christian culture. I'm actually not feeling much freedom in our exchange at the moment either.

Even with your expression of empathy, you seem to hold me in some disdain because I've referred to the "christian-bible" for clarification and understanding of the issue we are discussing. The Holy Spirit still speaks and I agree that we don't have to have the scriptures to know what the Spirit is saying to us but I'm also not ready to toss it completely aside and consider it all irrelevant or completely false and unreliable. I apologize if using scripture in my comments appeared to be an attempt to bully with the bible or assert the authority of the written word over the Spirit -- that was certainly not my intent. I will however, without apology, continue to look to the Lord for wisdom and believe that I might sometimes find it in the book that helped me discover the life Jesus was offering to me in the first place. I'm sad to think we are to the point where we don't have the freedom to read it ourselves or share what we've found helpful because of its abuse. I hope there is still something more reliable than opinion to stake our lives and futures on.

You're right. I've probably proved your point about tribalism. To suggest that God has a family that I'm part of and that I'm looking for my brothers and sisters so I can enjoy their company and the things they'll know about our Father and our family that no one else will know I suppose suggests love of a tribe of sorts on my part. I prefer to continue calling it my family.

rob horton said...

laurie: thanks for sharing that. i apologize if i came across as with any sense of disdain. this stuff is real fresh to me right now.

i didn't mean to imply that you do not have close relationships with those not professing to associate with jesus.

at the present i am not wanting to limit the family to just those that profess association with jesus. i want to embrace the entire human family as my family. i want to embrace them all as brothers and sisters.

so, in light of that, i want to thank you, my sister, for sharing your heart with me. i really do appreciate it, and i again apologize if i came across harsh or condescending or bible-belittling.

peace to you and yours,

Laurie said...

Thanks for your last post. I think online communication leaves a lot to be desired and often fails to convey our hearts.

I'll ponder your current desire to view all men as family. I actually agree to a certain degree -- just not sure how far to go with it.

...Good night Rob. :)

rob horton said...


regarding: "I think online communication leaves a lot to be desired and often fails to convey our hearts." amen, amen, and amen.

enjoy your sunday.

thanks for the enrichment,

Nicole said...

Rob and Laurie!

I am glad that you have talked this through, I am encouraged by how you both can explain things thoroughly. Please don't ever hesitate to be real on my blog, feel free to express yourselves in any way you want... I am glad you did.

In Freedom, Nicole!

Bino Manjasseril said...

The idea of such communities always excites me but keep in mind that community is not going to solve our all problems! It takes a lot of maturity even among the people in the community to love and respect each other without the fear of rejection. Usually two people tend to have two different opinions about anything. It requires a level growth to come to an understanding between people to operate on the basis of love even if they disagree.

Another thing, if the community is going to take the place of Holy Spirit, that would be bad as well. I think we have something to learn from each and every situation in life. there is something to learn from living without a community. I think thats what I am going through now. I long for real fellowship with other believers without question and we all need that encouragement from others. Bible says 'do not give up your meeting together'. So, though we may go through situations like being isolated, it is okay. As we learn to trust Jesus more and more for all our needs, He will bring people in our way for meeting the need of fellowship etc.

Great thoughts though!

Aida said...

Hi Rob,

What you were sharing brought some thoughts to mind. I think there are different levels of community and as people we actually are part of many communities.

As you pointed out, we are part of the human community and as such we interact with all of our fellow humans. As followers of Christ, we also have a longing to be part of a community consisting of other followers of Christ. That longing doesn't and shouldn't prevent us from being involved with our other communities.

For example, I work in the educational profession so I'm automatically drawn to other educators. It doesn't matter whether or not they're followers of Christ. Just the fact that we're in the same profession, there's an automatic connection.

Also, I do volunteer work at one of the local hospitals so I automatically feel a connection with the employees at my hospital. This is another community that I'm part of.

I could be wrong but I think what you're feeling is a reaction against the isolationism that has been common with so many Christian groups. For many years, the mentality has been: let's just stay in our fortresses and not go out and be contaminated by the world. I could be wrong but I sense that's what you're feeling. If I'm wrong, I'm sorry for assuming.

I personally love being part of the various communities that I'm connected to. They all so enrich my life. However, there is still something special for me about being part of a community of believers that Father has connected me to. As I connect and share the life of Jesus with this community, I believe that it will greatly enrich my interactions with the other communities of which I'm a part.


rob horton said...

aida: i really enjoyed reading your thoughts. it is accurate that much of what i am moving away from is that isolationism that you mentioned. another layer is just recognizing people participating in beauty, regardless of them framing their participation in the framework of "following christ or following jesus".

much appreciation,

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