Day 16: We’re Chosen To Fellowship Together — By Committing To Each Other

Point to Ponder: Community is built through commitment
Verse to Remember: “Let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.” — Romans 14:19a (Msg.)
Question to Consider: If you were to ask one of your good friends who — or what — they think you are committed to, how do you think they would answer?
[Read More] thoughts on Day 16 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.

[Shifting to a full title, to more completely capture the purpose of each week’s devotionals.]

Today’s devotional was very convicting, especially as I read it last night while pacing the floor. My wife (perhaps unwittingly) questioned how I could think about leaving a group while studying belonging. So, after she went to sleep, I got up and went through all the logic and reasons I had for thinking we may need to leave. I finally realized I had been assuming there were only two choices:

* Stay, and not be fully embraced by them, but try to embrace and accept them.
* Leave, and not embrace them — but at least respect ourselves, and their right to be what they are

But today’s devotional implicitly asserts a third option: be committed, and work with God to make our community a place where all feel welcome, and more closely manifest the image of God. That is:

* I do not have a right to feel ‘comfortable’ — but I do have a responsibility to lovingly but honestly share my frustration when I’m not feeling respected.
* Other Christians do not have a right to ‘be who they are’ — they have a responsibility to be who God calls them to be.
* I do not have the right to tell people what to do — but I do have the responsibility to humbly share what I believe God is saying to me.

In other words, being committed means using “all our energy” — our creativity, passion, and even our frustration — to help our community grow into the image of Christ. Rather than either denying what we need from them, or what they need from us.

The hard part for me, to be perfectly honest, is believing that God really wants our community to be a place where I feel loved, respected, and nurtured in growth — whether or not I feel comfortable. That is:

* Do I take my needs not being met as seriously as I would take someone else’s?
* Can I really trust Him to be at work in other’s lives to make them people I can trust?
* Do I accept my responsibility for working with God to effect change?

I am reminded of something a friend of mine at Lake Ave’s college group once told me. She was complaining to God about how the group wasn’t living up to her expectations. God gently rebuked her, saying something like “I didn’t show you those weaknesses so you could complain, but so you could pray for their strengthening.”

It is still difficult to believe that the ‘seed of irritation’ within me is a something God wants to use to create a transformational pearl. Its much easier to believe that it is just -my- problem, so that I should either ‘suck it up’ and do nothing or leave rather than expect anyone else to change. But whether or not I am right in my perceptions, being a community — being committed to a community — being committed to a community — means that my problems are our problems. If I’m wrong, I need their correction. If they’re wrong, they need my correction. Leaving (or “staying and stuffing”) both thwart God’s purposes.

That doesn’t mean it is easy. Ironically, while thumbing through the Community workbook looking for something to address my particular gripes, I realized next week’s session is all about loving confrontation. I guess this really will become a lab, not a lecture.

For any of you reading this in April 2005, I welcome your prayers.

Prayer: God, it is hard to be committed. It is particularly hard to believe that commitment does not mean subjugating and ignoring my needs, but rather bringing them to you to ask how You want to fulfill them. That it requires making myself available to you to, and asking how you want to use “all my energy” — even my anger! — in order to bring about Your Transformational purpose. God, I really need help on this, both from you and from others. Please, grant me wisdom, and mentors, who can help me see Your purposes and processes — for I know that man’s anger will not (by itself) bring about the righteousness of God. Help me to neither run away in fear or run wild in self-righteousness, but run to you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.