Yes, technology and architecture have been major factors in the destruction of the experience of community in our culture. If you so dare to take the plunge and swim upstream against these cultural currents, there’s an obstacle you will encounter that’ll be the hardest of all to deal with. It may be the biggest reason we’re so attracted to the types of churches that are prevalent today. It’s people’s emotional issues.
As we all know from experience, it’s inevitable (no matter how much you like someone) that you will eventually encounter unhealthy issues inside of everyone that you develop relationships with. This is when the fun ends and the hard work begins.
Re-thinking our commitments
It’s also a place people try to avoid. It’s where they start re-thinking their commitments and start retreating to their individualistic lifestyles. Regretfully, most churches, small groups and families for that matter, never make it past this point. They simply stay on the surface and sing songs and talk (instead of walk) about spiritual principles, waxing poetically about theological issues until the cows come home. And they consider this “being fed.”
Fleeing the scene
But, I believe we don’t just do this because relationships are hard. We also do it because we haven’t been trained in how to deal with people (and ourselves!). Therefore, when we experience the pain and frustration that comes along with developing relationships, we have no idea what to do. Our default reaction is to flee.
Searching for comfort
Lastly, it’s because we can. Because of the way we live, we can abandon relationships and typically survive just fine. This kind of set up makes it awfully tempting to leave relationships in search of surface-y stuff that’s a lot easier.
This is another reason why focusing your relationships on those that live in close proximity to you is natural and the better option. Although the bullet isn’t totally dodged (because of money and the style of our living quarters), it’s a lot more difficult to hide behind distance and caller ID when your relationships are with those that live within visual range of your house.
Growing up in Christ
Loving your neighbor sounds all well and good when it involves giving food to someone who is hungry and donating to charity or a Christian organization. But giving outside the context of relationship is “kindergarten” giving (see last post). It might hurt a little.
But when you’ve got to give of your time, money and energy to people that you’re stuck with and have deep-rooted emotional and social issues that can rub you the wrong way, now you’re working your way up into developing into a mature Christian and living in the Kingdom.