Christian community also offers an alternative to the hurried pace that is life for most of us.
When John Ortberg, one of the most influential pastors and authors in Christian culture today, needed spiritual direction, he called the late Dallas Willard. He was in a busy, fast-paced season, and asked Willard what he should do, in light of this, to be spiritually healthy.
“You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life,” Willard said.
Ortberg quickly jotted Willard’s point down and prepared to receive the next.
After a long pause, Ortberg said, “That’s a good one. Now, what else is there?”
Another long pause.
“There is nothing else,” Willard said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
The great danger for us is not that we will cheat on our spouse or become addicted to porn or any other moral failure. Our greatest threat is the sin of hurriedness, the toxic preoccupation with accomplishing more with greater efficiency. And in doing so, we will spend our days distracted by hamster wheel living. Satan doesn’t need to tempt us with anything else if he can keep us busy.
Satan doesn’t need to tempt us with anything else if he can keep us busy.
“Hurry is not of the devil. Hurry is the devil,” as Carl Jung says.
Christian community is an invitation to slow down, to enjoy meaningful conversations that aren’t dominated by the next thing on the schedule. It’s here, in this space, that life is found. All healthy relationships need “carefree timelessness,” to borrow from Matthew Kelly.
Christian community is an antidote to superficiality.
And “Superficiality,” according to Richard Branson, “is the curse of our age.”
If the narrative of Scripture reveals anything, it reveals that faith takes time. You won’t find God on the surface of anything. He’s found in the depth of things. This requires a stilling of life, a focused inspection of the heart and mind.
Christian community, when healthy, offers this. Sometimes you gather and if none of the kids end up at the hospital, that’s a win. Even so, when you follow Jesus in community, the invitation to talk about your heart is always there. It’s not always surface level stuff, how the 49ers are going to fare this year (as if you don’t already know) or commentary on Lavar Ball’s latest outlandish comment.
The spiritual benefits of Christ-centered community are too numerous to mention.
Now, engagement in this community can be messy. We all suck, sometimes, after all. We say and do stuff we shouldn’t. We let people down, unbeknownst to us at times, other times, intentionally.
Getting plugged into a Christian community also requires a lot of us. It asks us to be intentional – we must take the initiative to reach out and build relationships. It asks us to be vulnerable – any time you form a new relationship, you risk being hurt or let down.
The church does all it can to provide a launching pad to community. Some call it small groups or life groups. It’s all the same, life in communion with other believers. We must be proactive to experience it. Let’s not pretend building relationships is more difficult than it used to be. It’s always required people to sacrifice time and energy.
I think that’s why so many Christians settle for an hour or two on the weekend. Plugging into Christian community is hard work.
But, if we’re honest, we would admit that corporate worship requires very little of us. We need to gather on the weekend. Christians for centuries have gathered to proclaim and celebrate our Savior and Creator. Even Jesus, a faithful Jew, attended the festivals, the corporate gatherings in Jerusalem (Luke 2; John 7, 10). But he spent most of his time in community with his twelve apostles and a few others. Most of his teachings and miracles flowed from this community.
Jesus undoubtedly wanted to slap an apostle or two. But he persisted with them, and the fruit of his persistence continues today. The church began with the twelve and spread across nations and generations as a result of their deep conviction and faith.
If you’re already walking through life with others in community, I pray the Lord blesses your steps together. If you’re not plugged into one, can I ask you to prayerfully consider finding one?
If you worship at Bayside, check out Growth Track. If not, find out if your church has a launching point to join a community. Whether they do or not, I want to challenge you to find some faithful followers to walk with. It will transform your life.
Grace and peace, friends.
This article was written by Frank Powell and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
Enter your name
Enter your email