Attempting to love your neighbor as yourself can be discouraging. There are times when you can feel alone in your endeavors. You might feel like you’re the one who always has to do the initiating. You might feel like your effort is disproportionate to the effort of those around you.
It’s at these times when the temptation to retreat into an individualistic lifestyle will feel quite strong. You’ll start to think thoughts like “I can survive just fine on my own. Why should I put all this effort into these relationships when there’s not much reciprocation?”
Control breeds loneliness
If you feel alone, your problem may be the one I’ve dealt with along the way…you’re trying to do it ALONE. And if you’re trying to do it alone, it’s likely that you’re doing so because you want to be in control. You want the activities to be what YOU plan. You want them to be when YOU want them to be. Because you think you know what needs to happen. If this is the case, you can bet you won’t have much success with experiencing something organic and healthy.
One of two things are bound to happen. 1) You turn into an institution with top-down control or 2) you disintegrate. I can testify of personal experience with both. I’ll share just one of them now.
Mechanical plans kill community
A few years back, some acquaintances approached me about being a part of what they were labeling as “organic, missional communities.” It sounded like a great idea and I was intrigued enough to take the time to have serious conversations about it.
During the course of our conversations, something struck me like a bolt of lightning. I was talking about what I could see happening in the future and I got stopped right in my tracks.
The two “leaders” that originally came up with the idea for what would happen explained that they had already planned out what was going to happen and my suggestion wasn’t in the plans. Translation – “we’re in control here.”
I declined their invitation. Today, what remains is a worldly structured institutional organization where neither of the original founders are present. If you desire control, a worldly structure is the only structure that will work for you.
Will you die?
When it comes to living in the Kingdom, your preferences for how things will happen have to go out the window. The Bible uses language for this like “dying to yourself.” You’ve got to stop believing you have the power to individually engineer organic Kingdom community church life. You were designed to be a part of a body controlled by a Head, not a Head that controls the parts of the body. If you don’t operate as a part, you won’t be able to experience healthy community with those in your life.
If you don’t make the effort a communal one, it’s more likely that discouragement will overtake you and you’ll quit. A community mission is one you simply can’t take on by yourself. If others are not involved, it won’t work. After all, it’s called a community for a reason.