Community is Messy, Part 1: Blood
Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and spit. Today, I'll focus on the blood part.
There are about 50 commands in Scripture that we cannot obey outside the context of community—love one another, serve one another, honor one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, confess to one another, etc.
Sometimes people talk about community like it’s some kinda lovey-dovey thing. Like it’s all touchy-feely. Like it’s one of the softer skills of Christ-centered living. Maybe it’s just me, but I think community is hard. Maybe I’m just a hard person to have community with…but my perspective is that it’s not easy. Community is messy. And discipleship is hard.
If we want to live in community, we have to commit to community. We have to commit to the point that we bleed community.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture ever is found in one of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth. Listen to this. He said,
“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. (HZ editorial comment: here is where Paul starts to sound a bit like Dr. Seuss) I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.”
Paul basically says, "If all of this flogging and shipwrecking and imprisonment and danger wasn’t enough…I’ve got you church people to deal with!"
He was committed to the community of God to the point of death. He was bleeding it.
The sacrament of communion, which recognizes our union with God and the community we experience as the people of God, includes the cup-- the sign of the new covenant in Christ's blood. Communion is about remembering sacrifice and celebrating the community we have with God through the blood of Christ.
Jesus bled for community.
A Christian prisoner in Cuba was asked to sign a statement containing charges against fellow Christians that would lead to their arrest. He said, “The chain keeps me from signing this.” The officer protested, “But you are not in chains!” “I am,” said the Christian. “I am bound by the chain of witnesses who throughout the centuries gave their lives for Jesus Christ. I am a link in this chain. I will not break it.”
Are we willing to bleed community?