This part of my response to a discussion from one of my classes. The first half this post is one I’ve written before, I thought it was relevant to the later conversation about community.
If the Gospel is such good news, why do we mope around our auditoriums and church
hallways on Sunday and Wednesdays? Where is the excitement that accompanies the
missional nature of the Gospel? Have we too quickly placed our enthusiasm for Jesus,and even talking about Him to others in the same place we’ve placed our Bibles and song books? On the shelf. Like song books and our Bibles we’ve allowed the Gospel to become nice decorations that give the church a sense of sacred. Kind of a McDonalds approach to the nebulous, messy arena of Christianity. “I’ll take three church hymns, and little bit of Jesus, easy on the convicting of sin, and could you add, some cheese with the whole bread of life thing.” Does that sound absurd? Sure it does, but is it any less absurd than the pseudo-gospel we’ve allowed to permeate our theologies, and how we live, and relate with one another and the world at large?
Maybe it’s time we unpack the gospel, see the contents with all it’s good-news, and begin to live as though we were re-enacting the story of the Jesus in our lives.
Maybe it’s time we see the cross anew, and are struck with a sense of awe, unity,and power in weakness. Paul wrote to a church in conflict, that the message of the cross was foolishness to those who were perishing. We have sure acted like we could live without Jesus and his cross.
Maybe it’s time we once again admit that we “need”, or maybe should I say “crave” Jesus Christ. Our hungering and thirsting has constantly reminded of us of our desperate situation before and without God. We’ve tried to fill our lives with a little bit of what the Gospel offers, but that hunger pain, and those parched lips of yours are a constant reminder of something more that we are routinely missing when we let routine and tradition cloud our longing for Christ.
Community is no doubt important from DeSilva’s reading as well as from the text. We
can’t worship fully without the community. Community is fundamental to everything we
do. This fractured, limping body known as the Church is the hope of the world. We need to take Christ’s words to be salt and light more seriously. Not only do we take Christ more seriously, we recognize that as humans we were created for community. While it’s true that we can pray and read the Bible on our own, we need the identity of the community, the prayers of the community, and the strength of the community to make it along in this crazy world.
Knowing the situation that recepients of the Letter to the Hebrews were facing, the
Preacher writes a stunning letter of exhortation to not give up meeting in community. He realizes the value of togetherness, and I think this notion of identity speaks of the social bonds and relationships that permeated the ancient world. People then as now operated in the realms of relationships, whether familial, militarily, professionally, community was important, and since the church provided a place of connectivity, and togetherness, the church as a collective bunch could also be a place to recharge weary batteries, and provide safety to the Christians battered and bruised by hostile neighbors and culture.
The bottom line, community is to important to give up on. Despite all its ills and
problems, the Church is the body of Christ, and is the second incarnation of Christ to a world desperate for a taste of God.