Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Retiring the Lone Ranger

We all desire community. And we all fear it. We fear rejection. And we fear losing ourselves and vanishing into some featureless conformity ("You will be assimilated"). Even worse, we fear trying our best to lose ourselves in such a conformity and being rejected because we fail the test. God calls us to a unity in diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:11-16). This pictures the Christian church as different people coming together in one body, while retaining their identity. There is a real unity here: we all need each other and are not simply people who come together in a building once a week. But we are not the same, but each has their individual function. And we gain by being different. We complement each other.

But how do we get there? We need to trust God (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 127:1,2; 37:3-6), and we must be willing to put others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3,4; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:13,14). The first is really required for the second. For it is not till we trust God that we will be willing to reach out to others. For the simple fact is, if we reach out to others we will be hurt. It is always a gamble. It is safer to hide in our own little shell and never come out. This is also true for leaders. It is safer to try to press everyone into the same mold than to encourage them to give up their individualism while keeping their individuality. Even more difficult is knowing where to draw the lines. If we tolerate everything, it can become destructive. It is so much easier to draw the lines in close, where it is comfortable. But God requires us to take that risk. For it is only by taking that risk that we can become the church of God He designed us to be. 

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