We talk a lot about community. Well here's something radical to think about.
Today, some people in my home group got together and went over to help out another couple in the group who needed some work done around their house. We trimmed hedges, pruned trees, cleared debris, pulled up a bunch of thorn bushes, and took it all to the dump. Then we went to a restaurant together. It was great.
While we were eating I had this thought: How come this is not normal for most of us Christians? How come it's only once in a very great while that we all get together and help somebody out? It seems to take a crisis -- a hurricane, a medical emergency, a new baby in the family, bankruptcy, and stuff like that -- to make us band together and pull someone's ox out of the ditch, so to speak.
What if, instead of doing yard work alone, we did it in small groups? What if, next time I need my house painted, I ask my small group to do it with me instead of paying somebody I don't know tons of money to do it? (Don't worry, guys, I don't need my house painted...yet.) What if, instead of each of us buying our own lawnmower and hedge trimmer and weed-eater and shop-vac and drill and every other tool we're supposed to have, we pool our money and buy one thing of each that we could all use?
I guess I'm talking about a modern-day evangelical version of the old barn-raising. But applied to more than just raising barns. It just seems dumb to me that we meet in small groups for Bible study and prayer but not (usually) for the stuff of life. What's the problem? Is it pride? Isolation? Self-reliance? All of the above?
I've been blogging about Donald Miller's book, Searching for God Knows What. His earlier book, Blue Like Jazz, has a chapter about community. In that chapter Miller makes a piercing observation. He says if you go into the typical Christian bookstore and scan the books, you get a very clear message: "Faith is something you do alone."
By contrast, faith in the Bible is relational. The early believers were "addicted" to fellowship:
"All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day...they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts." (Acts 2:44-46)
To get this lifestyle going will require that we bring our needs to the attention of a small group of fellow believers. It will require that we admit we need help. It will mean that we adopt a new way of thinking about possessions and time and priorities. And it will mean that we have to start planning our days around the needs of others instead of around ourselves. Are we willing? It's easy to write about it in a blog, but I'm not sure I am ready for such a paradigm shift. But I want to have more days like today. It feels so..."good and pleasant" (Psalm 133:1).