The Reality of Christian Community
So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. (Colossians 2:16-17 NLT)
In the novel “The Man Who Was Poe” by Avi, several scenes show Edgar Allan Poe trying to finish a story. He’s based the story on the real-life events he is experiencing, and the boy in the story is based on a real-life boy who asked Poe to help him find his mother.
Poe is often drunk, and he begins to have trouble distinguishing between fiction and reality. He keeps getting frustrated because the boy in real life will not submit to his manuscript. He sees the real-life boy as a character in rebellion, a contrary character that Poe will be glad to be done with.
This is often how we approach Christian community. We enter into Christian fellowship with a fantasy of what it should be like. We have an image of how people should act, and we try to create them into our image, rather than accepting the reality of who God created them to be. We imagine everyone will be spiritually mature, everyone will get along with each other, everyone will be sensitive to the needs of others, and we’ll all love and support each other.
Our fantasies eat away at the authenticity and transparency required in any Christ-centered fellowship. There’s no way others can meet our ideal, and so we become frustrated that no one is acting like a Christian ought to act.
Talk About It
- How would you describe your small group’s level of transparency?
- What role does pride play in our disillusionment of Christian community?
Jon Walker is managing editor of Rick Warren’s Daily Hope Devotionals and the author of Breakfast with Bonhoeffer. This devotional © Copyright 2013 Jon Walker. All rights reserved. Used by permission.