Community is a buzzword right now.
Everyone wants to create their own…from President Obama’s campaign for re-election…to Starbucks…to Pinterest…to Target…to the local mechanic.
Companies like Facebook are capitalizing on people’s hunger for community.
I believe it’s because we were created for relationship.
I believe it’s because we were created to love and be loved.
And, sadly, I think our culture has forgotten about our natural wiring as human beings…we were never meant to be alone.
Instead of discovering the exponential beauty that we can create collaboratively by letting our lives weave together, we’ve created an empire of self. And in an environment where we glamorize and reward independence, we’ve, consequently, created loneliness.
Pride and loneliness. Now, there’s a combination…certainly not the definition of heaven on earth.
No wonder the world is hungry for true community again. No wonder organizations are spending millions of dollars to create it.
I prided myself on being independent for 30 years. Every single report card as a child lauded my independence. I became so stubborn about doing everything myself that I would avoid things I couldn’t do on my own because I didn’t want to ask anyone for help. And, then, I felt alone. When you feel alone, you realize how weak you are, you dissect your inabilities, and you dwell on your insecurities.
Sounds healthy and fun, eh?!
No wonder we Americans have a problem. No wonder people are committing suicide. No wonder there are eating disorders. No wonder bullying is a problem. No wonder mental illnesses have sky-rocketed. No wonder people are suffering physically, mentally, and emotionally. No wonder people are hurting.
No wonder even giant companies and organizations are trying to address the problem.
Mother Teresa said it wisely: “The worst disease in today’s world is not leprosy or cancer: it is the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, of being deserted and alone.”
I know today that I was never really independent. I only pretended I was…pretended to myself, and pretended to the world. Being independent put me in control. Being independent helped me avoid putting burdens on anyone else. Being independent protected my feelings.
Independence from people is not a breeding ground for love.
Pretending to be independent kept me from being me. It kept me from letting others help me see things in myself I didn’t know were there. It kept me from the full manifestation of love in my life.
I read a blog last week that said 44 percent of the letters in the New Testament of the Bible are about how we should get along with one another (only four percent were about “spiritual gifts”). In the same blog I read that the words “one another” are mentioned 59 times! As someone who has spent more than a decade in professional communications and messaging, I can tell you that mentioning something that many times means it’s REALLY important.
We cannot “one another” by ourselves!
Furthermore, we cannot love one another without looking beyond ourselves.
Community is the manifestation of love. You can’t have one without the other.
Loving others IS loving God. Where love is present, God is present. Love creates community. Where two or more are gathered, THERE GOD IS in the midst of us. Why? Because then LOVE is present.
Community is detrimental to our well-being.
Community spreads love.
Community spreads God’s love.
Community changes peoples’ lives.
Community is the church in action.
Our decision to follow Christ may be a personal one, but the manifestation of Him in our lives is not…it’s about people…community.
No we can’t all be best friends to everyone, then it would be fake…and we’d all be bad friends. But we can all show love, compassion and curiosity. We can all take time to learn about people. We can all connect people with others. We can ALL create community. Community isn’t something we sit around and wait to land in our laps. We were all charged with creating it when we were charged to LOVE.
If God has commissioned us all to love…love, by nature, forms an interdependent community.
We don’t need ad agencies, web firms and Fortune 500 companies to spend millions of dollars to create something already at our fingertips.
Bob Goff, the author of my favorite new book called Love Does, says it eloquently: “It seems that what God does most of the time when he has something to say is this…he doesn’t pass us messages, instead he passes us each other…We are the means, the method, the object and the delivery method.”
Let’s not get bogged down in the pride of independence or unravel in our loneliness. If we all stopped making life about ourselves and started loving where we’re capable of loving in our lives, community will be created…guaranteed…because that’s what love does.
(And, we’re not done on this topic yet…in a few days I’ll be sharing about the church’s role in creating community!)