CREATING COMMUNITY

9 05 2016

CommunityWordle

Religious leaders back in Jesus’ day often regarded as a great virtue their habit of purposefully excluding other people who were not deemed up to par with the stuffy principles of the Pharisees! To them, everybody else was a step down when it came to their social standing within the community. This pompous attitude was labeled as pride by our Lord which was also regarded as a great sin. Unfounded prejudice fired against other human beings based solely upon outside observations has prevented many a potentially great connection. To dismiss another because of their color, their background, where they live or what they make is ludicrous. And when that poison sneaks into human thinking, society quickly becomes the home of snobs and the land of the cowards.                                                  

Jesus never said, “Thou shalt go to church,” because to him, the formation of his body was not constructed via bricks and sticks but it was made up of real life breathing individuals. Jesus formed a highly intentional small group where life-on-life, Spirit-led, transformational community was the norm. It was in this context where his followers received a unique invitation to be shaped, transformed, equipped and loved. And whosoever willed could come and be a part of the family. Old and young, rich and poor, men and women, adults and children, Jew or Gentile, Moral or known sinners could still be part of the crowd that was being cared for by the Christ!

What are the great barriers to seeing the formation and fruit that follows when people are living life within a true caring community? One is the temptation to settle for pseudo closeness. This is an imitation. This is nothing more than a fake version of the real deal. What happens in pseudo community is that while people do spend time together, they take no risks. They might be polite and share safe pleasantries when they talk but they refuse to go very deep. I guess you might say that the primary goal of pseudo-community is to avoid conflict at any cost!  

Are you willing to roll the dice and take the chance that could lead to a lasting friendship? The first step involves being the initiator and going courageously out on the limb in order to get to know another. It means being willing to risk rejection. The second step treasures honesty as the only policy. Rather than hiding behind the mask of hypocrisy, you are not afraid to live by the rule that what you see is who you get! Vulnerability leads to intimacy and trust. Truth opens the door wide to trust. A high regard for life means a deep respect for everyone. Impartiality means that nobody is exempt from graduating from stranger to confidant. 

It is not enough to just learn about generosity; it’s to BE generous. It is not enough to learn about forgiving; it’s to ACTUALLY forgive. It’s not enough to learn about joy; it’s to ACTUALLY rejoice and become joyful people. It is not enough to just learn about prayer; it’s that we ACTUALLY pray. Maybe the risk God is calling us to take is to make a conscious move out of safe living where things get quite lonely and finally jump into the fire of friendship where the knowledge of the heart is worth the climate of the heat!  

Are you willing to expand your sphere of influence by beginning to build new neighborhoods all around your day by day wanderings? Get to know a few new people every day. Bless some folks that you don’t know yet but a random act of kindness could open the door. What is the kindest thing that someone has ever done for you? Did you let it fly by without acknowledgement? On the horizon is the chance to enter into a whole new world. If you see others  only as pawns meant to slow you down and provide interruptions, you will miss the treasure. But if you use things and decide to love people and make them the priority, you are about to become a very rich person.

Just for the fun of it, I thought I’d give you some ice breaker discussion questions to warm things up. I challenge you to ask at least a few of these nuggets to somebody new this week and be pioneering enough to see where it might lead. Let me know if you gain a new buddy or two along the way. Here goes and have fun. 1. Other than Jesus- who is your favorite Bible Character and why? 2. Have you had God answer a prayer of yours lately? Share the story. 3. What are some of your absolute favorite foods? 4. Who has been the greatest influence on your life and why? 5. What don’t you want said at your funeral? 6. When you think about God – what is the first thing that comes to mind? 7. What are your biggest questions about your relationship with God? 8. What do you think about when you get up in the morning? 9. What are your favorite things about living in Cape May County? 10. What is important to you in your life right now? 11. Can I pray for you about anything? 12. If you had a time machine that took you back in time–where would you go to and why? 13. What is one thing that you really hate having to do? 14. What new thing have you learned recently? 15. What was the last really good book you read? 16. Which habits of other people drive you crazy? 17. Name two things you consider yourself to be very good at. 18. Name two things you consider yourself to be not so good at. 19. Tell me about a family member you are really proud of. Have you ever won a trophy? What was it for? 21. Name one thing that not many people know about you. 22. What was one of your favorite childhood memories? 23. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 24. What extremely difficult life situation have you overcome and how did you do it? 25. Was there ever a time when you were frightened for your life? 26. What is the best vacation that you’ve ever had? 27. What is the craziest thing you have ever done? 28. List one thing you wish you could change about yourself. 29. Who are some of the most important people in your life? 30. What is something that you are passionate about? 31. Who would you turn to if you were in desperate need of help? 32. What outdoor activities do you like to do? 33. Where is your most favorite place on this earth? 34. If you could change one thing about this world what would it be? 35. What do you consider the most important event of your life so far? 37. What is one thing that you are afraid of? 38. What would be your dream job? 39. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? 40. What crazy activities do you dream of trying someday? 41. If you could go on a road trip with any person (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you go?

If you care to send me some of your answers, I would welcome the chance to get to know some of my readers better and if you have any questions for me, feel free to email me pastorrudytlc@comcast.net Have fun and create some new community!

 


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