My next entry comes from Alan Knox in a post about a subject near and dear to my heart, community. His post, Man-made or (super)Natural Community?, talks about the difference between genuine and artificial community:
As I have been thinking about these waterfalls, especially in relation to the man-made waterfall, I wonder if our churches are similar. Could it be that many of us are not experiencing real Spirit-created community, but instead are we experiencing something that is contrived, controlled, and man-made?
I’m thinking specifically about alot of “small groups” of people who are placed together because of age, interests, etc. Placing people together does not create community, although it could certainly allow God opportunities to create community. The question is, are we trying to create something, or are we allowing God to create the community. If we are allowing God to create the community, are we giving him complete control, or are we setting limits for him. The more we become involved in trying to create community, the more contrived, controlled, and man-made it will become. It will not be a community that finds their identity in Christ and shares fellowship in the Spirit. Instead, it will be a group of people who find their identity in a certain person, location, time, etc.
I think that is great. Throwing people together for a couple of hours doesn't create community. Community is the result of salvation, exhibited by lives lived together in love and marked by self-sacrifice. We hear so much talk about fellowship and family in the church but the reality is that it doesn't seem genuine. It is contrived and artificial because we are trying to substitute ceremony for community. If we stop trying to dictate to God the terms by which we will be in community, we might just find ourselves in the sort of close-knit community the Bible describes and that many of us long for.