Saturday, August 17, 2013

What we all want

One of my favorite places in the world is Tuscaloosa, AL. Yes, I love sports and following the Crimson Tide. But I also love the atmosphere of a college campus. It has an energy about it that draws me. So spending the last three days there has been a joy.

For the second straight year, I was there as the festivities surrounding "Rush" came to a close. Once again, I was a part of a group allowed to watch a closed scrimmage on the same day as what they call Bid Day.

Now I don't have any understanding at all of Bid Day. Or the whole Rush process. Maybe if my niece from ∆∆∆ reads this, she can sit me down and explain to me - I really do think it would be interesting. But I do know this - it involves hundreds (thousands?) of young ladies swarming around campus. When I took my dog for a walk this morning, we were surrounded. College women everywhere. 

Then there were swarms of parental units. And finally, lots and lots of young men, college guys all dressed in button down shirts and shorts. Presumably, the latter two groups were there to support their family/friends as they went through (what I think was) the process of being selected by the right sorority.

Why am I writing about this? Well, it was an overwhelming sight and worthy of sharing. But that's not it. It was watching these waves and waves of young people in a process with one goal: finding a place of community. What we all want is to find other people to live life with. To love. To play with. To eat meals with. Even to fight with. Life is not meant to be lived alone. And a college campus has to be an intimidating place for a freshman who doesn't know anybody. So there they were, all longing to be accepted by a new group of friends and find community.

This is why the Bible is so clear that Jesus came to establish a community of followers, who together would show the world that there is a loving Father who has come to redeem us and set right the things that have gone horribly wrong with the world. One of those things is isolation, which finds its end in loneliness. How do we see this in the Scriptures?
  • God called Abraham not to be a man who lived in fellowship with him alone, but to be the father of a great nation that would show the world what it's like to submit to the Creator.
  • All through the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) God tells his people that they are an example to the nations. Not individually, but as a group.
  • Jesus called 12 men to travel and live together for three years, teaching them to love each other.
  • And, while there are many other examples, I'll end the list with this: In John 17, Jesus prays for his followers - both alive then and those to come later (us) - and the essence of his prayer was that we would love each other in unity so that the world would that his message was true.
For an excellent treatment of this, take time to read this essay (Believing and Belonging) by NT Wright.

So this truth hit me as I saw all these young ladies who clearly understood the importance of community. So what if we got this? What if church wasn't a place that we go once a week because we feel obligated? What if our churches and small groups were places we could not wait to get to? What if we didn't rationalize that "faith is personal and I can do it on my own"? What if we got up on Sunday thrilled, the way these young ladies were thrilled to find a group to accept them?

Yes, what if we lived our lives the way God intended? What if we broke the chains of of our individualistic Western culture, and really opened up to each other?

Wow, what a world it would be! And what a picture of real life for the world. We might have thousands swarming around, desperate to be part of what Jesus is offering through us.

Together. Not alone. That is real Kingdom living.

See you there.

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