Sunday, March 12, 2017

Born into Community

There’s a school on the other side of the road, on the far side of the field next to our house. Interesting things are going on. There are piles of soil, a temporary fence, diggers and bulldozers and a sign that says “Keep Out! Building Site!” The school is over-subscribed, I think, with more children than they have space to accommodate so maybe they are building an extension. If I was a pupil there I would spend far too much time watching the builders.

I walked past the fence and the notice earlier today when I went to fetch the Sunday newspapers. I thought of other building sites and other notices. The “Keep Out” sign never really did its job. As kids we pushed our way through hedges to get onto a building site. They were building the telephone exchange in a nearby patch of scrub land. We explored the pile of pipes and paddled through muddy puddles.

I am my own personal building site, a work in progress, not yet the finished product. I would love to put up a fence and slap on a notice that tells people to keep out. Weeks, months or perhaps even years later I would like to dismantle the fence and present the polished person that is me – no piles of bricks, no cement bags or scaffolding. I would like to testify that, yes, I had a challenge, and it’s all sorted now. Feel free to take pictures and admire to new extension!

But God isn’t like that. He doesn’t like the fence I have put up and tells me to take down the notice. He doesn’t want people to keep out. He invites them in – friends, family and foes. He gives them the keys to the bulldozer. He lets them operate the cement mixer. He rolls out the blueprints on a trestle table and directs their work.

He insists that they speak into my life and instructs me to speak into theirs. Sometimes I cannot see, or will not admit to, weakness and flaws. My perception of His truth is coloured and tainted by hang-ups and short-sighted vision. I don’t know everything I need to know – he gives truth to others to pass on to me.

He never intended that I should be the lone wolf or the solitary hermit I yearn to be. The Christian life is lived out in community.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that we are a body and that the “you” of scripture is plural, not singular. We need each other to grow and to flourish and the journey of faith can never be personal or private.

Gone -  the first person singular in me!
Renounced - the hermit I’m inclined to be
For “him” and “her”, and “they” and “us” I see
Yes, born am I into community

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