This is hard one.
This one is delicate to explore, because it is understood differently by all people, but where it is really misunderstood is in the U.S..
The United States has lost their understanding of community in the last 70 yrs, because it’s migration to the ‘city’. You see at one time there was a community of rural people of the farmers and also of the ‘small’ cozy, town where everybody ‘knew’ each other. You don’t see very much of this anymore, they are all gone.
The days of having a ‘village’ of people with a small and intimate place to ‘just walk in’ to the local coffee shop,hardware store, grain store, or the corner grocery store to just ‘talk’ about today and our personal lives of our families is nowhere to be seen. This was ‘community’
It was that daily touching of someone’s lives with ours at the drop of ‘I’m going down to the market for some eggs, that would keep us up to date on the ‘Jones’s’. It would be also a great day to go back to the meeting place and give them an update to yesterday’s problem. It was being connected to your close community of friends and close knit ‘family’, that kept you concerned about everyone around you and your family.
I would like to bring up two such examples of this kind of ‘community’. One is, from across the pond. I love to watch the travel shows of men that lead the tours of europe and their finding of places and people, and countrysides. It seems that it is much different there than in the U.S.. The towns are much smaller, the ‘communities that are rural, although they may be spread out no more than a couple of miles down the road are very dependent on each other for fellowship, labor, doctoring, or just communicating with each other. There is a much closer identity of one’s place in life, that is closer to home in their lives. It is all about the community of people that surround them that ‘is their life’. There is no inclination to find a life in the ‘city’ or anywhere else.
On a related note, I believe that this is getting worse in the next generation of young people, which I think was handed down from their parents that there is a desire to go ‘searching’ for ‘life’, fun, new, or anything but ‘here’ kind of place, it’s like they are restless, no connection in their lives.
The second example of ‘community’ is that one that started by God in the days of the old testament with the beginning of the Jewish nation of Israel. God not only called them to be united in community, but he laid out the details on how to do it. God knew the principles around community and its success of being one. It was an ‘assembly’ of like minded people(all believing that God was their God). It was the living together amongst themselves sharing their food, family,shelters,trials,tribulations, heartache and especially their love of their God. It was this multiple connections of identity to each other that kept them as one, one community.
The understanding of God’s example of ‘community’ in a more deeper and awareness of God’s Love and Grace for such a Community will do us a great service in knowing what we are to know, and do for such a community in our lives in this modern world.
I fear that we have been traveling down that road of ‘this is the way we always do it’, has led us down some misleading practices and ‘ways’ to ‘get us’ to the promise land.
Let’s re-look at how it is designed in God’s community, and follow it to the end!