Sunday, 12 May 2013
The Idolatry of Community
The narrative of the Tower of Babel reminds us that simply being in a strong community is not what God wants. Scripture tells us the people of Babel had such a coherent identity in relation to one another that they all "used the same language and the same words." They became such a unified force in the world that nothing they purposed themselves to do was "impossible for them" (Genesis 11:6). This lack of diversity and fear of God forced God to scatter them and confused their language. God fragmented their strong tight knit community...
For many Christians today creating "community" is a central tenet of what church is meant to be. We do everything we can to try make going to church easy, accessible, and "seeker sensitive." Sometimes we have such great ideas for building community that we think we practically invented the concept. I am currently in Edson, Alberta treeplanting and had a day off today so I decided so I would try out one of the local churches. I ended up in a dwindling community of Lutherans and Anglicans where the average age of the person attending was somewhere around 70 years old. While the church may be dying, the call of God on their lives is alive and well. The thirty to forty people attending the service deeply care for one another. After a long and joyful passing of the peace, we entered into a time of BAS (Book of Alternative Services) based prayer where I began to sense this was a community that has laughed together, cried together, experienced loss together, yet remain faithful in prayer together. As we shared in Christ's body and blood I felt comforted by the continuing apostolic legacy this community has been faithful to. While this church is not the "hot" church for young people to attend in Edson, the rich simplicity of the Christian faith is here. We declared the founding creeds together, confessed to one another, and prayed the prayer our Lord has taught us. After the service we discussed matters of life over lunch. None of this was done out of a desire to be "new" or "fresh" it was simply another Sunday for these folks as they humbly came together as sinners to thank and worship their saviour while loving their neighbour.