I find myself coming back to the idea of Christian fellowship again and again. Some people may think of me as that crazy uncle who rants about how things should be. I have to admit that it feels like I go to extremes on this sometimes. I have come to understand that I can be counted on to find what’s wrong with a situation. And I know that I can be the downer in the room when I start working through all the flaws in an idea. But as a friend of mine observed, I can also keep pressing people from becoming complacent because I can see there’s so much more ahead.
And that is where I find myself on the topic of fellowship. I know that so many times we are making mud pies and call it fellowship when God desires to give us a weekend at the beach, to borrow an analogy from C.S. Lewis. I think some of it stems from the frantic pace of our lives that we’ve forgotten how to slow down and enjoy relationships. We get so busy with activities, even activities with people, but we miss the bigger picture.
My mind was bouncing from memory to memory the other night as I tried to go to sleep. I was thinking back to my last mission trip to Cambodia. There were so many glimpses of what it could be like, but the memory that stood out was after we got back. We’d had several long flights and a long layover in LAX. We got to DFW about seven in the morning. Someone had mentioned this little neighborhood restaurant they’d go to for breakfast. So we loaded our bags into the van and went to eat. Some of it was probably decompressing from the trip but I remember that I didn’t want that meal to end.
I’ve had similar experiences and have had the post-mountain-top withdrawals afterwards. I am fully aware that these are the exception to the rule. It would also be fruitless to camp out in that coffee shop and try to recreate that experience.
But there are some common components that I think are necessary for us to make the next step toward scriptural community:
Time - Each of these periods have had time at the center. We spent more than an hour a week with each other.
Proximity - You bond with people when you eat, sleep and work in close proximity to each other. You also learn a great deal about them, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Common Goal - In each instance, each person had their own gifts and talents but as a group we had a specific common goal we were working toward.
Prayer - When you spend time praying for each other and these other components are involved, it bonds you in a way that cannot be expressed.
I understand that most of these experiences happened in a different country or culture and were short term. However, I don’t think we should discount that something similar could happen in our “normal” everyday lives. What could we restructure in our lives to make more room for this? I’m not calling for people to move into a commune, but maybe there are some drastic changes we need to make.
Have you had similar experiences? Do you think I’m trying to build tabernacles like Peter? What are your thoughts?