Posts Tagged ‘suffering’
We all suffer. We all doubt. So why do we have such a hard time dealing with it? Doubt is a dirty word in Christian community–we’re told we must be certain of our beliefs. But certainty is an emotion. Admitting doubt, some say, reveals weakness in faith. Well, I’ve never met a strong believer in Christ who hasn’t wrestled with suffering and doubt. Doubt is the opposing force that strengthens faith, like barbells for weightlifters.
So how do we do it? How do we properly confront our suffering and doubt? How do we survive these dark seasons? Paul’s letter to the Philippians offers us an effective and super practical solution. Click the video to hear it.
photo credit: http://wickedmonkeys.com
Tolkien’s whole premise in The Lord of The Rings is this: Fellowship comes only through solving problems. Ask a firefighter, member of the military, teammates on an NFL team… they’ll tell you. Something happens when you bleed with someone, when you pour out everything you have with a group of people in order to solve a problem. It seems to form an unbreakable bond among those involved.
So, can someone tell me how we got to the point where we name the facility in our churches that has coffee, juice and cookies pleasantly prepared for our consumption: the Fellowship Hall? Seriously? If that didn’t strike a chord with you, how about this. Community Groups? Who only meet on Tuesday nights to talk through a Bible study? The type of community we see in the disciples and the early church is much different than what we tout today.
I don’t believe there’s some wild, complex reason why we’ve lost sight of how to build real community. In fact, I think the reason is pretty simple. A mentor of mine recently said, “The primary work of Lucifer is to separate words from their meaning.” Explore that a bit today and you’ll find it’s a profound truth. Words like Christian, belief, work, worship, evangelism and yes, community; do an analysis of original Biblical language and context and you’ll find Lucifer has been pretty effective in his endeavor. Bottom line, in too many churches today, the real meaning of the word community has been lost.
How do we get back to building real community? Glad you asked. The answer is: suffering. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of riding my bicycle from Miami to Key West–165 miles of pure suffering–to raise funds and awareness for those living with HIV/AIDS. I found myself in a group of 5 people, none of whom I’d met before that week. Despite our incredibly diverse backgrounds, we were each there for the same reason, and we all knew that we were taking on a task nearly impossible to accomplish… alone. For hours on end we rolled together, single file, rotating the front person every ten minutes or so, who would bear the brunt of the wind. We shared the suffering, we helped change each other’s tires, we picked each other up after falling. I didn’t even know some of their names until after the ride. That was a few weeks ago. Today, Randy, Rob, Evan and Kim are my brothers and sister. An unbreakable bond has formed among us. I’m certain if I’d met them at a cafe and shared a relaxing cup of coffee, I’d barely know them. Because we suffered together in an attempt to solve a problem, we will be deeply connected for the rest of our lives.
If suffering and problem solving is the only way to form real community and, by themselves, study and casual consumption doesn’t do it, then share with me some practical ideas for building real community in your church.