Gathered again last night for another night of laying the foundation for 7 Mile Road.
mile 5 :: community
One of the cool things you notice right away about the seven mile road story is that everything happens in the context of community. Its not one guy – but two that experience the whole thing together. They walk the road, they struggle with doubt, they encounter Jesus, they ask questions, they hear Jesus teach the Scriptures, their hearts burn as they hear truth, they share a meal, their eyes are opened to Jesus, they believe, they run to tell everyone what they have seen. Ok, did you notice the pronouns in this sequence of events? They. It’s always plural.
Luke paints this picture of two men who walk through doubt together, encounter Jesus together, experience faith together, and go on mission together. We want the same reality to mark 7 Mile Road. We want our people living life together, sharing frustrations and burdens together, wrestling with doubt together, experiencing faith together, sharing joys and gladness together, and running on mission together. Together is a really important word to us cause we see community to be a really important reality in the Scriptures.
We talked about how human beings are wired for community. At our core, we are relational. We talked about Adam in the garden and how it was not good for him to be alone. It’s really important that we realize that this was not a consequence of the Fall. So it’s not that Adam would have been fine being alone with God, but then because of the Fall, he needed other people. That’s not how it happens. Adam is created with a need for community. In the good design of God, pre-Fall, human beings are wired with a need for other human beings.
In the New Testament, and with the unfolding of the story of the Church, we find community to be a central reality. For one, the Church is described as a body. One body with many parts. The idea is that each of us plays an integral part in the body of Christ. We cannot remove ourself from the body without doing violence to the whole being. When one part suffers, the whole body suffers. We are deeply interconnected and deeply interdependent.
We also noticed how most of the Epistles in the New Testament were written to churches. Being in a highly individualistic culture, we forget that. We reduce every passage to be about me rather than us. To ignore the communal context of these letters produces plump Christian individuals and a starved Christian community.
Once we had let the panoramic view of community in the Scriptures hit us, we focused in on Acts 2 and looked at one of the early gospel communities. We let Luke’s description of the early church saturate our mind and our imaginations yearned for some of those same realities to mark our new church. We asked God that we too would be marked by generosity, sacrificial giving, corporate worship, open homes, devotion to Gospel and truth, sharing life, sharing meals, prayer, mission, and growth.
Before we ended for the night, we had an honest conversation about the things that inhibit us from experiencing community, and the things that threaten to destroy Christian community. Like how gossip could tear apart the fabric of a community; how ethnicity could segregate and separate a community; how guilt, fear, and shame could keep us from being real with one another; and how really connecting with someone takes a huge investment of time, energy, and a certain degree of risk – more than we might be up for. Though we didn’t work through each one, we acknowledged that the Gospel alone could overcome each of these obstacles and enable us to truly be a community.
We ended the night as the saints in the room asked God with faith to knit us together and birth a Gospel-centered, missional, community called 7 Mile Road Church.