We have been "homeless" since April 30th. Dear friends in Albuquerque and Madison have been gracious enough to allow the three ring Nielsen family circus to invade their homes for weeks at a time while we wait for our move in date of July 1st to arrive. We are living in true community with those who love us. For this we are endlessly thankful.
This has got me thinking a lot about church community and what it means to live with each other. Middle class Americans have a hard time doing community. Part of this is due to technology (FB and Twitter allow me to have "friends"), part of this is due to wealth (we don't need to depend on anyone else), and part of this is due to the general ethos of Americanism which trumpets the value of "I did it myself!" and "you don't have a right to tell me what to do!".
Aside from these cultural influences, living in community with other people is just plain hard. It exposes our selfishness. Living alone is easy. You only have to look out for number one. Relationships are a dance where you have to learn to move and bend with the preferences of those around you. Being selfish is easy but God said "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18).
Living intentionally with others in community is a blessing but also comes with an acute ache. Why? Because our flesh only goes down swinging and the punches of our flesh hurt bad. Who likes to have their selfishness assaulted? But that is exactly what we need and therein lies the blessing. Any means by which I can learn to be less selfish will always, in the end, bless me. Take the punches from the flesh, endure in the fight, and the blessing of your personal sanctification will be more than worth the battle.
Unless our churches can learn to embrace the messiness of community we'll never grow together into the beautiful body of Christ that Jesus wants us to be.
(P.S. - If you have not read Total Church you might want to pick it up. They flesh out this idea very well.)