Wednesday, October 19, 2011
This isn't a inspirational wall calendar verse. For me, it's more like slipping on wet tile and falling so hard on my back that I get the wind knocked out of me. Why? Because it takes a truth that is so foundational to my existence - the unity of Jesus and the Father - and ties it invariably to another truth that couldn't seem more foreign to my experience - that being the unity between believers. Most of us from the West do not have trouble understanding our relationship with God as something personal or individual. Spiritual disciplines and personal behaviors lend themselves quite adequately to articulating this relationship between God and self. But, where God and I is a manageable concept for us, God and we is extremely elusive. Simply put, I cannot seem to trace the dots between you and me and Him. Lamentably, this exaggerated emphasis upon personal experiences with God at the expense of a communal relationship with Him ultimately diverts our eyes from seeing Jesus. The collective we that Jesus introduces in His prayer takes a sword to the inflated individualism that lies at the root of this blindness. I see the Sombra Road Home as a gift, but also as a blade of this sword that is intended to challenge our individualistic inclinations.
This past weekend, Carol, the guys and I travelled about two hours outside of Rio for our first spiritual retreat. We called it Retreat 2011 because that is about the extent of our creativity when it comes to naming things. The purpose of the retreat was to ask God to grow within us a greater understanding and practice of community in order that "the world may believe that He sent Jesus." We carried into the weekend a list of 13 elements that tend to surface in a healthy community of believers. This list was compliled from our experiences, those of friends and those of authors of books dealing with this concept. I thought it may give you a better understanding of what God is doing here by sharing one of these elements each week and the way it plays out in our community. The intention in talking about these elements is not to fence in this reality so that it becomes a manageable concept or a strategy that we can implement. The goal is to find a handle to grab onto, so that we can begin to live community and submit to God’s plans for us in it. My prayer is that God would grow our identification with one another and with Him.