In my community house, I am the person who most often remembers to charge my electric toothbrush. If you assume this means I enjoy a reliably charged brush, you would be wrong. It merely means that it’s my base other people end up attaching their interchangeable heads to.
Designating our possessions, or more likely, our gifts or time as the property of the Body of Christ can be really tough.
When I’m feeling that my serving has become sinking instead, that my toothbrush has lost charge one time too many; when I get to thinking ‘what’s even the point’? That I’m just a name on a rota. That there are certain passages of the Bible, certain truths, which I hold onto. Or if you’re feeling exhausted or disappointed by your church or community, it might help to think on these.
1) We are made in God’s image and God’s image is, and always has been, community. When we are in community, we reflect the image of God more fully. It is not as trivial as social life. Community is important and foundational. It is hard because it is valuable.
2) Ecclesiastes 4:9, most often read at weddings (though not actually about marriage), reminds us of the practical benefits of community: “If one falls down, his friend can help him up but pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” In a rather less drastic example, the day did come when I forgot to charge my toothbrush and I too found myself affixing my brush head onto a friend’s fully-charged base.
People can be annoying, but you probably are too. A stool needs three legs, penguins keep warm in huddles and to return to Ecclesiastes: “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”.
3) Jesus’s disciples were a nightmare too. They ditched him on prayer nights out, pretended not to know him when he got unpopular and sold his life for cash. God doesn’t have misconceptions about how easy it is to be a part of this cobbled together body of His, but He commands it anyway.
4) “It is by love that you will be known as my disciples.” The early Church was full of the poor, those who had needed the community of the Church and were adopted into it. That community too was imperfect, hierarchical, divided and messy, but that it became family to the excluded meant that the Church grew like wildfire. That your communities are ropey and dysfunctional is no evidence that it’s not worth the effort.
Be kind to yourself. The Church doesn’t need another saviour. It (rather conveniently) just needs the small offering we each have; our strands making the cord stronger.
picture via Creative Commons