Getting into people’s lives can be really, really messy. That has seemed to be the theme of my last few days. Ever been there?
I have a pretty selfish past…basically I used to be in a place where I really only cared about myself, what I was involved in…bad things really only bothered me if they were happening to me, my wife, or one of my really close family members. You know these kind of people. Maybe you even are one, but I doubt it if you regularly come here to read.
But lately, God has turned me into a little bit more of a person that cares about others. I think He’s still getting me to the point where I care MORE about the needs of others than myself, (could be a long road on that one) but at least I “give a rip” now. Sometimes now I find myself prone to get mad about things that present trouble in the lives of Christians or for the cause of God. I’ve heard this referred to in books as holy discontent. Whatever you want to call it.
But I’m finding that the hard part of this…the messy part…is when you get into peoples’ lives. There’s a movement right now dealing with “true Christian community.” The kind when you get up close with people, share honest stuff, be accountable, etc. etc. You’ve probably heard something about it.
Natalie and I have recently delved into this arena. I now have an (amazing) weekly accountability partner where we literally discuss everything. We have a new community group that’s committed to being real with each other and trying hard to break down walls of surface-level church talk. It’s a good thing.
But the conundrum…the paradox…the puzzle…the catch 22…the anomaly…is that the more you invest into people, dig into them, even try to love them, the more problems that you come upon. A lot of times when people begin to let you in, and you dig deep, you come upon problems. Then you have to face the problem of how to deal with those problems…and you seem to be hearing the word “problem” a lot more.
That gets discouraging…fast.
So, you’re left with the question: are you better off digging into people and dealing with more problems and conflicts and imperfect people (including yourself) as you go…or just remaining on the surface level, never sharing, never listening, never communing?
I know the Church-Sunday-School-Bible-Christian-Right answer to that question, but we are in the middle of a big one right now…and intellect seems to say one thing while common sense and heart say another.
If you’ve ever really been in community with people, you probably know what we mean. If you haven’t…sorry, I didn’t mean to undo the commercial that you church just did for why you should join a community group.