I was helping someone up a long set of stairs the other day and I was thinking how grateful I am that I can run up the stairs each day. A few years ago I had “a bit of a fall” (some Canadian understatement) and one of my biggest fears was that I would no longer be able to spring up the stairs, as has been my lifelong habit. Well I thank God that that fear proved unfounded (at least for now). I did gain strength and I am back to my usual racing pace.
I learned that I am quite jealous of my independence. I thrill to be able to walk and run and work! Yet there was an early time when I was carried before I could walk. I was picked up when I fell and encouraged to get up and try again. My development of ‘independence’ was entirely dependent on others. I learned to walk in community and after my fall I needed that same sort of community.
Jesus calls us to, take up our cross and follow Him. Paul describes this adventure as ‘walking’. The lessons I draw from needing a community to walk are very apt to my need for community to walk out my spiritual life!
There are stages when we need to be carried. There are times when we fall that we need gentle restoration. There is always the need for encouragement. Equally we (the Church) are called to carry, restore and encourage others! None of these needs can be met in isolation. We need each other. While most of us live in single family dwellings (hedged off from the world) or in apartments (well named as apart-ments) this becomes a challenge.
I am not advocating that we all move into communes (though this has a definite appeal). I am advocating that we make intentional efforts to find and to be real community. This means going beyond homogeneity . If we are to carry, restore and encourage and be carried, restored and encouraged it will happen best with others who have diverse backgrounds.
When Linda and I first became involved in planting Up Town Church I was drawn to this community of need to satisfy my urge to fix people. This is not an ignoble attitude but it falls far short of Christ’s incarnational example. I soon came to experience a gracious transition from an “us (the ministry team) and them (the folks of Up Town) to an us. I even got to be the central player in a parable of this type of interdependence when I was so broken.
At Up Town we see ourselves as “an honest accepting community (my word for the day) of broken people; who are experiencing the Father’s love, finding wholeness in Christ, and performing acts of kindness in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Together we are experiencing His transforming power and leaking that transformation into our neighbourhoods.