Thursday, April 7, 2011

Drunks and the Kingdom of God

Lots of talk about community these days, and specifically what "real" Biblical community really is.  You may have heard the question asked many times, "What does real Biblical community look like?"  Hmmmmm.  You know, I'm actually not quite sure what the answer is.  I'm not even sure that it's a legitimate question.  I guess it would be similar to asking, "What do "real" people look like?"  Sure, there are certain distinguishing characteristics that make a human being a human being, but the individual details are so varied that one cannot paint a broad enough picture to include every single personal scenario.  In the same way, Biblical community is difficult to classify.  Sure, there are certain, and very specific requirements for a community to be classified as "Biblical", but each community differs drastically because of the individuals that represent the community.  And that's the one aspect that gives Biblical community such a vast array of images: Individuals.      

Last week a friend of mine invited me to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I'll admit; I had no idea what to expect, but he did a pretty good job explaining the gritty details of what I might experience.  But as usually happens, the picture that I had in my mind did not represent reality.  Let's admit it.  For people that have never been to a meeting, the name Alcoholics Anonymous might bring to mind certain cliche images.  A group of old timers, with visible signs of years of alcohol abuse?  Tattoos? Chain smokers talking about how they are coping with day to day life?  Motor cycle riders?  Auto mechanics?  Aging musicians?...Wait a second...Doctors?  Lawyers?  Teachers?  Pastors?  Coaches?  Moms?  Dads?  Me?

My point is that from my perspective, many different types of people was represented in this community.  In fact, it was one of the most eclectic groups of people that I have ever seen.  And that got me thinking.  When we look at our Biblical communities, what do we see?  How varied are the personalities, lifestyles, backgrounds, nationalities?  Can we honestly say that our communities represent all, walks of life?  Even many walks of life?  Is it easier for culture to describe what the typical Christian might looks like?  Think about your church.  Think about your small group.  Think about your Sunday School class.  What do you see?

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not making a blanket statement that indites the entire Church.  I've been in many Biblical communities that range in age, color, nationality and even sexual orientation.  But in my experience, this is unfortunately not the norm in today's culture.  After visiting Alcoholics Anonymous, I found myself asking a very sobering question: Do these meetings represent more of what a church should look like?  Is this more the kind of honest, open and trusting community that our Biblical communities should try and emulate?  Granted, there were aspects absent that would theologically not classify AA as a "Biblical" meeting, or church for that matter.  But I'm talking more about the "communal" aspects.

Just for a few minutes, think about the human condition, and just how messed up we are without the saving grace of Christ.  Think of what we are capable of doing without God's guidance.  Think about the awesome unconditional love of Christ.  Think about the outcasts that Jesus surrounded Himself with when He walked the earth.  Think about those he turned away, or those that wanted nothing to do with Him.  Now think about those that fill our churches.  Our small groups.  Our Bible studies.  Compare and contrast.  How often does someone walk in off the street, sit down among us and announce for all to hear:

"Hi!  I'm Jake.  And I'm a messed up sinner with a messed up life."

"Hi Jake!" 

(Insert hug here)          

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