Friday, January 4, 2013

Seeking Community is Counter-Cultural

Yesterday, I was inspired to write to the young adult community I serve as pastoral intern.  I felt the message had a broader application, so I share it here.  It is nothing new, simply a reminder I think of what many already know to be true.  I leave out the personal address, so the letter starts mid-stream; and I leave out the application... sorry, you will have to apply it as the Spirit leads in your community.  Feel free to share how you see that happening...


By the reception such social networks as Facebook, Twitter, and other forums have received, community is clearly a felt need in our society.  Another interesting thing about our generation is that we strongly desire to be counter-cultural.  So we desire community and to be counter-cultural.  It is peculiar as I meditate on these two points, and how they interface with each other, that seemingly the most counter-cultural thing to do in our society right now is to seek community.  I conclude this because as many of you know, Facebook or Twitter do not satisfy all your connection/relationship longings, do they? But our hearts are oddly satisfied by the 'friendships' we have through such mediums. Our connection is 'made'.  It is almost as if we have checked 'the friendship box' when we sign in to Facebook each day, isn't it?  Or that we have got the encouraging status 'like' shot in the arm that will propel us to the next 'like'.  But in the end our hearts are still lonely and missing something...

So, why am I randomly emailing you with this philosophy of social networks?  Well, first, it is not primarily a philosophy, nor principally about Facebook or Twitter (those are illustrations), it is about our hearts, and the hearts of those we work with and live around.  We live in a society of folks that have been affected by the Fall.  At the Fall we were not simply separated from God when we sinned, we were separated from nature, but also separated socially from ourselves and others.  We live and breathe around folks (and live with, and are!) who have been affected by the Fall.  We live in a society that is at the same time becoming the most connected society the world has ever seen, but at the same time the most disconnected that the world has ever seen.  We are connectedly-disconnected. But God did not leave us in this state.  He gave us community in the death and resurrection of Jesus, His Son.  How? Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, "We belong to Christ in eternity with one another.  We who live here in community with Christ will one day be with Christ in eternal community." In the community of the controversial Messiah, we are at the same time counter-culturally sought out by others, and seek others, to be part of a vital, Christ-centered and counter-cultural community.


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