Which is better, faster of further? Of course the astute among you will say “it depends what’s needed!” And you’d be right. In our fast culture of instant access and instant service, we can be tempted to think faster is always the answer, especially in matters of faith. There’s a great proverb that I like and I think fits for this time of year: if you want to go faster travel alone, but if you want to go further travel together.
The longer and more difficult a journey the more you need people around you to pick you up and keep you motivated, or look after you when you’re sick and down. Of course, you’ll need to take your turn at caring for the people that care for you too. That’s team work isn’t it? It’s also a great picture of community. Jesus loves community. The Bible’s full of family language. It also describes the early church and how big it was on community. If we follow Jesus we’re called to love brothers and sisters in the faith in such a way that our love is a witness to the world of the love of God. Christians often want that and try to create that in meetings on Sundays, with some success, but the acid test is outside of the Sunday service.
Building and being in community is actually hard work. Don’t know how hard you’ve tried it but it is. Another everyday proverb, or observation of life anyway, is that we often take the path of least resistance. So we try community, find that it’s hard and back off a bit, falling back into our safe, cultural default of individualism and independence. Sometimes scarred and hurt by the process too. If you have been hurt or are trying and finding it hard, take courage, you’re on the right lines. There’s no other type of community. It’s tough and great. It’s rough and smooth. Just like life. But we are built for community. For relationships. We are relational beings. And our faith is a relational, communal faith. The greatest satisfaction is what you achieve with and in other people. Look at the two guys who free climbed up the 3000ft El Capitan in Yosemite Park today: they needed each other and did it together. They will have become incredibly close and forged a bond that will last their lifetime. I often say if you want to grow in your faith get in community, invest in people and you’ll grow; not because its’ easy but because its hard.
|Kevin Jorgeson & Tommy Caldwell: 1st to free climb
El Capitan 15 Jan 2015
The Bible says in Romans 8:17 that we share in Christ’s sufferings in order to share in his glory. We can’t have one without the other. the glory is in the ups and downs of community. Depending on your experience, keep going, reboot, or get started. I’ve cycled a few laps of Richmond Park pretty fast on my own (for a 44 year old anyway), but my greatest achievement has been cycling across Europe in a team of 8 with tonnes of support from other people. It’s true, you may go faster on your own, for a short while, but gradually, those who’ve struck out with other people will go further … and have more fun. Take the risk and invest in community. You’ll grow stronger and go longer.