Here and Now: Community

Being reconciled to one another in Christ here and now, we can move to establish community.  It is community based on grace, nothing else.  We do not have to be alike.  We do not have agree.  Our community is not contingent upon any secondary descriptor or pre-requisite.

All the pressure is off!  We can be together because we are together.  All the ways the world (and sadly, the church too) labels us (and then uses the labels to divide us from each other) cease to be factors.  They are stripped of their power to separate us.  We are one in Christ.

In this kind of community we also live beyond ourselves.  Mission thrives because we no longer vote for or against them based on our preferences.  When everything belongs, the only missional question is, “Will this give us the opportunity to draw closer to others and do them good?”  If it does, we are for it!

The overarching term for this “the beloved community”–the community in which the love of God poured into our hearts through the Spirit enables us to manifest the fruit of the Spirit.  When this life together is real, the Kingdom of God is present and active. 

The past five years or so, I have discovered it is much easier to be accepting than judging.  All you have to do to be accepting is to accept.  But to be judging, you have to expend a lot of energy developing your case and defending it.  It is wonderful to be able to enter any situation and all you have to do is say, “My name is Steve.  What’s yours?” This kind of here-and-now simplicity creates community in ways that pre-judging never can.  And in that simplicity, it is amazing who you meet!

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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