Friday, February 6, 2009

I found frost in my world this morning. Frost and spring. Frost and light painting the grass and etching with shadows; spring reaching into the cold, cold sky, waking dusted with bits of icy dew, greeting the sun with little explosions of color.

I ramble-posted about community last night, just some thoughts off the top of my head, a little bit of a paragraphical outline to a post that I didn't want to write. But I should know better than to ramble-post. It takes time and love and thought for me to communicate a spiritual point. Time to organize my thoughts, thought to draw my readers' attention ultimately to His face, love that allows me to be open with readers who sometimes don't see beyond the words I say to my heart.

Some of the comments I received about last night's ramble have made me think that I need to take some time to expand my thoughts a bit.

You see, I am finding that the thing that makes community life-giving is a common pursuit, a common knowledge, a common love. C.S. Lewis said that friendship is born at the moment one man says to another, "What! You, too? I thought I was the only one."

I have found this sort of community with other photographers through Flickr, Shutter Sisters, SmugMug, and I ♥ Faces. I have found this sort of community with other moms through blogs and articles and playdates and nurseries. I have found this sort of community with other writers through papers and articles and editing and sharing.

Photographers pursue beauty. They share the same failings and challenges and passion. Moms pursue being good moms and raising good kids. They share the same failings and challenges and passion. Writers seek excellence in communicating their stories. They share the same failings and challenges and passion.

From what I have seen and experienced, Christians pursue what is right. Nearly all of the comments about last night's post went directly for this point - that we need to make sure that what we pursue and believe is right; community then becomes the accountability police force we need to make sure we are safe.

But there is something more to community, and this is where I hoped last night's scattered thoughts might point: the common bond that should be found in a community of believers is a pursuit of the heart of God.

When we are pursuing His heart, HE is our safety. His Spirit has changed me so deeply that I don't even think like me anymore. I look back at the way I thought even five years ago about God, and I am shocked at the changes in my understanding. The Spirit doesn't always speak to me about what I should do, but about who He is. And when I live in the light of who He is, I can't help but pursue His heart. Because He loves me. Because when I don't define Him, He is never the assumed. Because there is always mystery in intimacy, and intimacy in suffering, and suffering in choosing Him over anyone.

Generally (and I do mean generally, there are some specific exceptions), Christians who advocate community are pursuing community itself for community's sake. The pursuit is not God's heart, but rather becomes a safe set of principles and a common understanding that we must all look like X and be together doing X and being X. The emphasis in these communities is too often on teeth-picking and sepulcher-washing.

True spiritual community among the ekklesia is found in the pursuit of His heart, and in the knowledge of Him. What if we do look past what we know of community to see what He will show us about His heart, about the oneness Jesus prayed we would have, that He has with our Father

There will always be those who deliberately and willfully choose sin who will need to be confronted about their sin. God does use the ekklesia to step in when the person is shutting down His convicting Spirit and still claiming to be seeking God.

There was a time in my life when no one believed me when I said "God told me"; I know what He said, and I know what He has done in my heart because I chose Him over the "wise" counsel of my friends and elders. There will always be those who justify themselves by saying "God told me." I don't have to believe them; it is between them and God, and my response to them must be directed by Him.

These are the frost, coating the beautiful spring that will burst forth anyway because He says it is time. These are the frost that isn't destroying the blossom that is already there. These are the frost that will melt away as the sun's light falls across it. Don't fear them. Don't hate them. Don't drive them away. He loves them so much. He wants to draw them to Himself too.

Don't be afraid to trust His Spirit's leading as you listen to His voice calling you to come to Him. He will always lead us to Himself by way of His Son. If the voice you hear does not lead to Christ, it is not worth listening to. He gives us His heart, and then He leads us to His friends. Can you imagine being surrounded by a community of people who look at you and say, "What, you know Him too? I thought I was the only one!"

And the pursuit is all His beauty.

It amazes me how the rest of it all falls away as we enter into Him. If we are focused on His heart, our interactions with others in this community will be focused by His heart. The sepulcher-washing becomes encouragement that others can see His work in us, the commonality of our pursuit of Him will help us know that we are not alone. Confrontation over sin finds its place in His heartbreak as we communicate His heart to the one who is shutting Him down. And hearing His voice becomes an adventure, a joy, an experience to be shared.

Spring dawns with light, and the fragrance spreads.


dancebythelight said...

Thanks for sharing more of your thoughts, Kelly. I love what you say here, "He will always lead us to Himself by way of His Son. If the voice you hear does not lead to Christ, it is not worth listening to."

That was what I was trying to get across, but you did it so much more elegantly in two lines. :)

And I love, LOVE the gorgeous photo of the buds. It's almost like confection! The pinks and blues are glorious.

Alison said...

I agree with this so much, Kelly. And I love your thoughts on community--so many of what you say is what I haven't been able to verbalize. Like, for instance, the Christians who advocate community for community's sake--this can be seen those that are hung up on some non-essential of the faith, but I have to admit, I also see it in the "every thing's cool as long as we're together" postmodern church movement. I think, really so much of it is that we don't know Love from God as intimately as we should (as you worded it, "pursuing" or "focused on His heart"). If we did, community, even our relationships, might come more naturally.

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