The Cost of Deep Community

Deep community means being open to the possibility of hurt. That is, the risk of being hurt & the reality of dealing with hurt. 

It’s impossible to foster deep community without opening ourselves up to being known. I think we are so terrified of vulnerability that we’ve forgotten what it feels like. And I’m not talking about faux vulnerability. But genuine vulnerability that can sometimes feel like bare emotional exposure. This can seem a little graphic. But I think this explains our uneasiness with it. We find it to be terribly intimidating. It’s far easier to keep people at a safe distance. But I also think this explains why we live in a generation with more connectivity than ever yet we are less connected than ever. Amongst other things, we’re afraid because vulnerability means that there’s a risk of being hurt. People may take advantage of us or think less of us. Worst still, people may see me for who I really am – and I’m not proud of who I really am.

It’s also impossible to build deep community without dealing with hurt. This begins with our own hurts. The people around us bring out different things within us. Our baggage, guilt, and shame. They also bring out our selfishness & pride. We need to deal with that. But it also means dealing with other people’s hurts. It means carrying each others burdens & pain. It means being exposed to other people’s vulnerabilities & grieving with them (as we do rejoice with them). This is time consuming work. It’s emotionally taxing work. Make no mistake. This is hard work.

Put this way, I think we can begin to agree that many of the relationships we have are more shallow than we’d like to admit. This doesn’t make those relationships bad. Not at all! And all relationships are different. But I hope we can see that community and the commitment to working through hurt go together. And truly, only the Gospel of Jesus Christ enables us to do this well. 

The gospel doesn’t allow us to impose moral superiority over others because we know we are deeply flawed sinners, nor does it allow us to play victim against others because we know we are deeply loved children.  It creates the safe space we are after to dealing with hurt, and it makes restoration and redemption absolutely possible outcomes for those who depend on God. It’s beautiful when you see this take place. 

I’ve seen this play out beautifully in our Community Group. Imperfectly. But slowly. Here we are on our retreat a few weekends ago enjoying each others company. Chopping wood, cooking food, eating snacks, dancing, singing, tasting wine, reading books, going on walks, and sharing our hearts. The Gospel has brought extremely different people together and united us under something greater.

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