Back in the day, the tangible idea of community meant something: everybody knew each other, supported each other, grieved with each other, celebrated each other. Family extended beyond the four walls of one’s home and surpassed simply having the same last name or DNA, as a lot of brothers, sisters, and play cousins were born out of relationship that had very little, if anything at all, to do with being related. Neighborhood watch didn’t need to be announced because it was expected; there was something wrong if you DIDN’T look out for your neighbor. Folks understood that “it”, and we, were better TOGETHER; that there was strength not only in numbers, but in unity. The goals we shared of raising our families and shaping our world was common…with GOD at the center.
Today, as the times have become increasingly more wicked and pressurized than ever before, we see trends and habits that run opposite of community have taken precedence. No longer are we as willing to share, as willing to support, as willing to be inconvenienced; if there’s no direct benefit in it for us, we’re likely not to take part. The common goals we could once ALL agree upon have taken a backseat to our pronounced, and more glaring, differences, alienating one from another. It’s no longer apropos to prioritize you over me, or to get involved to lend a helping hand when I have it in my power to do. If I see something, now, I say NOTHING, and as long as the drama, violence, deterioration, and self-deprivation doesn’t appear to hit MY HOME, I’m content to be apathetic. And consequently, not coincidentally, GOD has been asked, told in certain ways, to have a seat and no longer be the lead we’ll all willingly follow.
Sound a lot like your neighborhood?? Sounds even more like the Church, where we’ve become content with giving no thought for our city or block, but have become enamored with only looking out for OUR house. We’ve let those in the valley of decision decide something else, we’ve left the harvest in the vineyard, and we’ve erected altars to worship what we can GET in this life above what we can GIVE in this life, ignoring the work that’s egregiously going undone, to the degree that when we hear “get your house in order”, we do more straightening up of what’s already there than we do actual cleaning, removing, evicting, replacing. We don’t believe the same, and as a result, we’ve become segregated. We’ve become implacable, unwilling to cover and restore our own, allowing the world to have at them. And instead of championing our neighborhood and community, we long for blocks and areas where, sans our conversation, WE ARE NOT WELCOME, nor should we be welcoming. We’ve left our FIRST LOVE, and where we live is suffering for it, both inside AND outside the four walls we’ve holed ourselves up in.
Good news is, though, that the Church, like our cities, neighborhoods and communities, are not beyond being salvaged, are not beyond redemption, are not without hope; but in order to experience these things, those that reside in these spaces can not be without action. 2 Chronicles 7:14. No titles, no egos, no hidden agendas, no withholding of resources, no cliquing, no amending, just unified repenting. Acknowledging our collective, and individual wrong. Admitting our departure from life due our pursuance of death. Owning up to our worship of the creature instead of The CREATOR (Rom.1:25).
When pride is no longer the most important thing to us, we can learn how to serve, again; how to live and how to obey, again. When humility becomes the clothing of the day, we can see our neighborhoods restored from the top down, everyone concerned for everyone else, each equipped and able to impact the lives their connected to through covenant with, like the Church. When we return to GOD, we can see HIS unmerited favor and an abundance of mercy return to prevailing and overseeing the affairs of men. When we get back to JESUS, we can get back to community: a common unity.
GOD’s will matters. Let the Church, and the neighborhoods, say amen.