The second chapter for our March bookstudy of Broken Down House by Paul David Tripp was “Pursue Community”. How do we live in this house that is impacted by sin, our sin, others’ sin, the fall? We pursue community. We are used to the idea of being “free, independent and accountable to no one.” We must admit that “the way we think about our faith has been significantly shaped by the individualism of the surrounding culture.” He goes on to say that the way we are used to living “encourages isolation and privatism, which one dictionary defines as ‘being noncommittal to or uninvolved with anything other than one’s own immediate interests and lifestyle.’…We live in interwoven networks of terminally casual relationships. We live with the delusion that we know one another, but we really don’t.” (152)
This chapter is my very heart. Living in the world we live in today has influenced how we view church and its people. We would much prefer to meet and greet at church and keep our relationship with Christ personal- no one should intrude in our lives- in what we do or how we do it and if they do they are meddling. But if we look at God’s Word we see such different instruction. Tripp reminds us that God called a people to himself- When God made a covenant with Abraham, God was calling Abraham to be part of a “people”. Tripp challenges when he says,”Individuals collect at a gate to catch a plane on Tuesday. But it is a people who gather to worship God on Sunday.” (154)
Community was vital before the fall-It was not good for Adam to be alone, and the Trinity itself reflects relationship. Tripp points out that it is so difficult to remember who we are in this world- a sinner and a child of grace- that we need community, people, to tell us the truth when we stray in either direction. We can forget we are a sinner and think we are justified in living and doing whatever we want, however we want, and we need the people of God to call us back and remind us what it true. And we can forget how loved we are and that we are no longer under God’s condemnation, and while we are beating ourselves up or holding on to shame, we need God’s people to remind us what is true. Tripp says that if we are left alone to our own vision of ourselves we will become more and more deceived. “It is time that we humbly admit that our view of ourselves is blurred by the distorted lens of our own sin and the assortment of faulty mirrors we encounter daily in the culture.”(157)
Another book I read recently pointed out that we live backwards in this world. We put out to everyone whatever we want- TV shows, youtube, facebook- and go completely public with whatever we want to share- and yet we want no one to respond to what we have laid bare. We want to be public about very personal things and want no one to comment. And yet the Bible calls us to be private about what is personal, yet have someone or a few someones who have the right to speak to what they see in our lives- who actually intrude into your space. How different than how our culture sees it.
We are called to live in an “intentionally intrusive, Christ-centered, grace-driven, and redemptive” community. Does that make you nervous? Intentionally inviting someone in your private life so that he or she can help us see ourselves with biblical accuracy; while he or she points you to the goal of grasping God’s grace in your life- not someone who is catching you in something you shouldn’t be doing, but someone who loves you enough to risk the difficult conversations and ask the difficult questions because he or she wants you to be more like Christ.
He ends with the application questions are you “still hiding because there are struggles you can’t seem to get consistently under control? Are you still holding on to the belief that you really do know yourself better than anyone else? Are you still imagining that you are wiser, more sanctified, and spiritually stronger than you actually are? It is time to face the fact that your walk with God is a community project.”(161)
This has been the area of growth I have most had to change in. I did buy in to the idea that my life and my habits were my deal and no one else’s. I still stuggle to always believe that the best thing to do will be to admit something is hard for me, rather than just work on it in private. But in the past couple of years, I have benefitted from having people in my life who are willing to be a sounding board, willing to take the risk to tell me hard things, and willing to remind me of what is true. I am so thankful for them and pray that I will be able to make it easier for them to do so. It feels contrary to our nature (our fallen nature), and yet it is God’s amazing way of reminding us we need His people. And He uses those very people to point us to Him.