What does it mean to be a community? Especially as it relates to those around you? What about as a church body?
"Communis comes from a combination of the Latin prefix com- (which means "together") and the word munis probably originally derived from the Etruscan word munis- (meaning "to have the charge of"). Traditionally a "community" has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location. The word is often used to refer to a group that is organized around common values and social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household. The word can also refer to the national community or global community." (Wikipedia)
Community is obviously important to us humans. No one wants to be alone no matter what their religious beliefs. At the end of the day, no one wants to go home to an empty house or to not be around friends. Those who think they do are kidding themselves.
I've been invited to join a church plant who's primary focus is going to be missions in the city and community as a body and with those in the surrounding neighborhood. A lot of churches reinforce community among their believers, but sometimes there are closed doors. We as people create these doors because we prefer to socialize with those who are most similar to ourselves. Similar to our education, similar in our upbringing and similar in our beliefs. How hard it is to break this mold and be surrounded by people who aren't like ourselves.
I can't remember the last time I openly talked to a non-believer friend about my faith. I've done mission work, don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't see that as an important aspect of my faith, but the reality of me stepping out of my comfort zone, confronting someone else or doing something that may rub the other the wrong way is not exciting to me. It's something I'll avoid if possible. I don't enjoy talking about my faith sometimes....writing about it is one thing (I have time to figure out what I want to say and collect my thoughts), talking about it doesn't always give me that freedom. I often prefer to show people what I believe by doing something. Anyway, when it comes to talking about our faith there is a level of trust that must be achieved. This is only built when we're in relationship with one another. This relationship is the community...the common bond. When we care about each other we start listening, caring and heaven forbid, sharing our secrets. We open up to others in ways we never thought possible. At least, that's my experience.
I often hold onto things and hide my grievances with God from other people. I hide my sins and I hide who I truly am at times. I'm a sinner...I do bad things, I can hurt other people and I let people down. But we all do that. We're all beautiful letdowns and I say Beautiful because that's what we all are. We're beauitful in the sense of being created in His Image and as God said in Genesis, He was pleased with creation! He didn't just say it was good, but VERY GOOD! Building up that trust takes a lot of time...this I know. It's taken years for some of my closest friends to really know me. I don't open up easily about my personal life. There are some things I could talk about till the cows come home and others I refuse to share. But those things I refuse to share often become burdens that I carry alone. I do it alone. That's not how it should be and it's hard to get away from that model. The community, your friends, the people you trust are and should be capable of sharing the burden. This is how we're designed. That is the life God meant for us.
What keeps us then from being that? What keeps us from sharing? Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the consequences. Fear of people being disappointed. Fear of rejection. How then can this be overcome? Is the answer through community? Relationships with each other? Will that make me trust you more? Will that make you trust me more?