Saturday, November 5, 2016

Walking Out the One Anothers

We are continually learning what it means to be the church. But the idea of living in community, for the sake of the community, is a good place to start.

Easier said than done.

We all like the idea of community. We have all seen what happens in those rare moments when a community rallies around a cause and "makes a difference." However, living in community--not just in times of great tragedy or in the wake of a disaster, but in day to day, ordinary, life--is a whole different ball game. And it is both harder and easier than I had imagined. It is also, I believe, the life to which we have been called.

You know all of those "one anothers" in the Bible?

Love one another

Serve one another

Submit to one another

Encourage one another

Confess your sins to one another

Pray for one another

Be at peace with one another

Wash one another's feet

Be devoted to one another

Accept one another

Admonish one another

Wait for one another

Greet one another

Bear one another's burdens

Bear with one another

Do not lie to one another

Consider one another more important than yourselves

Comfort one another

Build up one another

Seek after that which is good for one another

Stimulate one another to love and good deeds

Do not speak against one another

Be hospitable to one another

Have fellowship with one another

Living in community provides daily opportunity for me to practice these things. I'm not talking about living in A community. We all do that. And that does provide opportunity to do these things as well. But I'm talking about living IN community.

What's the difference? Three things: solidarity, proximity, and intentionality. We are not one family trying to do these things in our neighborhood. Instead, we have planted a small community of believers (2 families and 2 singles) within an existing community to BE the church in and for that community.

Solidarity--we are a community of believers with a shared vision
Proximity--we all live walking distance from each other and from the church
Intentionality--we are taking these "one anothers" seriously in how we interact with each other and the broader community.

There is so much talk and rhetoric out there in the world about what it means to be a person or a community of faith. But the God who came to dwell among us invites us to also be incarnate in our world, embodying all that He taught us. I'm pretty convinced that the world can not be reached through brilliant arguments and well worded statements of faith alone. I'm pretty convinced that unless and until we are embodying those arguments and statements, we are just clanging cymbals.

The truth is, the lost people around me simply don't care about going to heaven or to hell. Such ideas are too foreign to their experience and world view. But when they see the "one anothers" being lived out in their midst--THAT, they want. And when I can simply explain that THAT is but a foretaste of heaven, the reality for which we were created, then I have something to share that they want to hear. Then the arguments have some merit. This is where effective evangelism is happening in our context.

There is no one way or model for this to happen. So as I share a peek into how that is being played out here in Old Lyon, please do not think that I am saying that this is the only way. It is one way.

In our desire to have a building that not only housed our weekly worship services and daily prayer meetings, but was open to the community all week long, we landed on the idea of opening a shared workspace facility, where we rent desks to self-employed or independent people in need of office space. From 8 am - 6 pm, M-F, the building functions as a Co-Working Venue. But from 7-7:45 am and 6-6:30 pm, M-F, we have prayer meetings in that same space. The people who rent space are invited (but certainly not required) to participate. But they understand that the space is shared with a church and that such activities will be part of the weekly rhythms. We also have our weekly services (called Happy Hour) at 5 pm on Sunday evenings.

No matter the day or the hour, we practice the "one anothers." There are four or five of us who are both church members and co-workers, and so as we go to the "office" to do our work (for me, sermon writing, conference prep, networking, coaching) we have the joy and privilege of interacting with our broader community on a day to day basis: loving, serving, speaking truth, sharing joy, practicing hospitality, spurring good deeds. We're living this stuff out both inside and outside of church walls because this church's walls extend into the community.

Again, this is both easier and harder than I imagined it would be. Easier because it is organic. I am not having to contrive ways to interact with people from the community. I am not having to create "outreach" events or manipulate conversations. We live out our faith with those who work alongside us. But it's harder because I can't compartmentalize and there are no clear boundaries. Sometimes I don't want to "serve one another" (i.e. clean the office) or "have fellowship with one another" (i.e. stop my work to engage in a meaningful conversation). And I am finding myself faced with how challenging these "one anothers" are if we actually try to live them out in our regular daily lives.

But when we get it right...oh the beauty and the rapture we experience. God is present all the time, but there is a sense of His manifest presence among us when we live this out by His strength and for His glory.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. But since this post is getting a bit long, I'll save that story for another day. 

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