The Healing Nature of Community

There’s something to be said about our connectedness or lack thereof with other human beings.  As technology advances at skyrocketing paces what’s happening to us when it comes to having a  true sense of deep community in our lives?

As a foster parent I have seen what changing the community we live in does to us as humans.  Change our community and it changes us.

Bottom line: we need each other.

Bottom line: we aren’t meant to be alone, isolated or to survive on our own.

There are movies that have sought to communicate this truth like Tom Hank’s role in Castaway.  He’s lost on an island at sea and he is so alone he creates a friend out of a volleyball and names it Wilson.  Our human need for companionship is great and runs deep in our souls.

What happens to us when we don’t have the kind of community we need?

I got a call one day about a homeless woman who was living in her van.  While I didn’t have an immediate answer to her predicament while assessing the situation I learned quickly in our chat that she had no positive, successful people in her life.  She lacked a good community.  So, we brought her into our community and today she has a part-time job and housing.  She volunteers with us in ministry and has become a part of us.  She did this on her own with the support of our community.  We didn’t try to “fix” her with a paternalistic spirit or tell her what to do.  We merely loved her, met with her, encouraged her and helped HER meet HER goals.  Community healed.

This woman didn’t need me to throw money at her, she needed a healthy community.  She needed to feel a part of something larger than herself, a sense of belonging.

A paranoid schizophrenic who has lived a life of instability came to us.  Through community she is much more stabilized and has remained in her same apartment for a few years now.  Previously she moved about every 6 months.  She feels a part of us and is connected here.  We love her and encourage her regularly.

As people come to us our people naturally reach out to lend a loving helping hand.  Our pastor recently said something like, “Having different or needy people in a church means that church is compassionate, accepting and loving.”

I have seen healing in the lives of my foster children as church members have reached out to them and loved on them. They form relationships with healthy adults and they feel special.  They get invited to special outings with these adults and they come home beaming that someone chose them to go to the movies or a ball game etc…

Many who live on the fringe of society merely lack a healthy community.  We all need to feel accepted, loved and important.  There is something amazing to celebrate in every person.

Has our culture pushed individuals further and further towards isolation?   I don’t think we have done this intentionally, but it’s just something that’s happened to us.  There are so many things we do alone: TV, movies, video games etc…   Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, in their book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself, say we as a culture have a monochronic view of time.  This means that we believe “time is money.”  Tasks are so important to us!  We stand together with the UK in this concept.  All other countries however (except Japan, they’re kind of in the middle) have a polychronic view of time.  This means they believe time is limitless!  There will always be more time!  The task isn’t as important as the relationship in a polychromic culture.  People who live in cultures that have the polychronic view of time are much more community and relationship oriented.  They have a deeper sense of personal connection to others.  They feel like they belong.

Our culture views the world through the glasses of individualism.  As a result many of us are depressed and isolated.  Could a healthier solution to some forms of depression be a healthy community?

Who can you help step on the path to healing through community this week?  How can we take steps to be intentional in bringing people together?  I have seen people who have healthy community in their lives choose this over a job promotion, a bigger house, or other opportunities.  Once we find meaningful relationships we will trade it for nothing.  Who better than a healthy church to foster these relationships?

9 thoughts on “The Healing Nature of Community

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  1. Community? Yes, community, but not just any communism… A community of which Jesus is head and central…. A community of folks living out a vocation of expressing the sacrificial love of God to each other and the world around them.

    (I appreciate your concern that giving money away freely does not achieve this, but don’t get locked into that idea. Sometimes giving money is appropriate (Mark 10:21; Luke 6:30) I would suggest you burn that Corbett/Fikkert book. It is not nearly so biblical as it appears and plays a central role in closing wallets and church house doors and hearts as it winds up justifying conservative politics rather than liberally lavishing love.)

    Thanx for caring about this stuff. Thanx for sharing your insights. I am a foster parent too, I get it.

    Agent X
    Fat Beggars School of Prophets
    Lubbock, Texas (USA)

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  2. Thanks for your thoughts Agent X! Yes I agree there is a time and a place to give. I have seen our giving be more of a crutch than a help in the church many times. Or we give what’s not really needed and then feel good about ourselves for what we did. This is giving that is self-serving, not giving that is centered upon the person in need or God-centered. Blessings to you in your ministry as you serve God the best you know how as well!

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    1. Thanx for your response!

      I am well aware of issues about giving. Money is a crutch for the giver and the receiver – FREQUENTLY. Nothing makes a problem go away like $5! Especially if it’s a loan!!! But making problems go away is not really a Jesus goal. In fact Jesus says the blind receive sight, the lame walk but the poor get good news! That is not money, it’s a message telling them God is in charge.

      I personally think money should always be an option. It is always sacrificial, but not always necessary. “Silver and gold, we don’t have, but we will give what we do have…” a healing touch! (Peter and John). I presume they would have given money, like was asked, IF they had had it, but it turns out they didn’t. And anyway, what they gave was actually better! Thus it’s complex. But there is never a time we are told to with hold it. And, money empowers. “Enabling” is a synonym, but it gets a bad name. And empowering gives dignity – at least it can. I cannot think of a time when I am instructed to worry about the outcome of alms giving. Just give.

      Any giving, ANY giving, that plays a part in further relationship is to be prized. The campaign to curb giving money is not biblical, really, and actually is quite damaging a lot of the time – ever bit as damaging as giving ever is/was. Thus, I am against that campaign, and for the giving.

      But honestly, giving the Gospel, is best – esp to the poor. Jesus did it.

      I gotta say though, that with that caveat, your post really jazzes me! I truly and deeply appreciate the care you put into caring and posting. I am blessed, as are the poor around us.

      Thanx!

      X

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      1. YES! Giving the Gospel should always be central to what we do. As a mission’s pastor I struggle at times to teach this to our people here. Many acts of kindness lacking the communication of the Gospel message. Anyone can do an act of kindness but when we do them motivated by the Gospel message and the Holy Spirit what we do can transform us and others too!

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  3. I know I am an oddball (but so was Jesus, Paul, Mary (Magdalene at least) and the gang…) but I make a practice of taking prayer and communion to the streets. (If I have a little cash, I give it too, but it is never really the focus or thrust of ministry and I usually either have none or little and it runs out fast). But I always take prayer and usually communion. I am amazed at how many bums, hookers, druggies, AND THEIR CHILDREN come to the table with me. I don’t think I ever went out on a mission that NO ONE came… well maybe a couple times…

    I also camp out in alleys, empty lots, under no trespassing signs, behind dumpster and outside of locked up church house doors sharing communion with the bums, tramps, beggars and prophets. Given the chance, someone, if not several, in every group will preach, pray, lead a song and they LOVE to talk about Jesus deep into the night!

    I need to take care not to make it sound like it is just all sweet-n-innocent. Often it is not. People get high in the prayer service sometimes. People assault each other sometimes. There are some truly rough spots in it sometimes, but MOST of the time Jesus really shows up in mystery and power that cannot be explained.

    I blog about this stuff all the time. Tell lots of tales as well as exhort, convict, give advice etc… Lots of tales of God’s mercy and the adventures into his grace and love. It is all so imagination expanding.

    I sense that most of my white, middle-class Christian friends hold the poor in contempt on the one hand or have such negative experiences and limited imagination where they are concerned and I hope to change that. Once the imagination gets set free, the whole giving-money issue and a host of related problems get a vastly new perspective. Then we SEE God moving!

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    1. I don’t see you as an oddball at all! I too work with people who are down and out. Sometimes I think of my calling as to those who nobody else wants to be around. And, yes, you’re right where Jesus would go! Be encouraged and live out your calling without excuses. I’m assuming you know of Shane Claiborne? I think someone like you would love his book Irresistable Revolution! Look it up! Share the Gospel everywhere! Keep it up!

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