Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Individual VS The Community

"Love Bears ALL Things" 1 Corinthians 13: 7

Dictionary.com defines "to bear" as to hold up, support, hold or remain firm under.

In the past 3 -4 weeks we as a country have had a lot happen and been challenged to "bear ALL things" We have bore witness to two shootings, one in a movie theatre and another in a Sikh Temple. We have witness the division of our country over the issue of equal right for the LGBTQ community as some ate at Chik-fil-a as a sign of support for traditional marriage and those who boycotted in support of granting equal rights to all. We are also bearing witness to the political process in this country as we watch repeated negative political ads on the TV, and those will continue through October. I don't know about you but in times of great division in my personal life or in the world I have difficulty loving all my neighbors and bearing all things and trusting that God will bring us all through difficult and stressful times. What makes this all so hard to bear is what I see happening to the greater community in America. In this country we are afforded the right to free speech and the right to practice our faith according to our own conscience without government interference. As I watch Americans, and more specifically Christian Americans, I see the individual being raised up to a higher level than the greater community. My observation is that the community and the unity that is inherent within in it suffers as individuals stand up, declaring their rights without a thought about how it might affect the community at large. The best example I can give of this are the two shootings that I mentioned above. With the issue of Gun control put to the side here we see communities being shattered by the violence through the death of people and the trauma those left behind have to deal with. If we want to, and I say if with emphasis, change the emotional tone of our country right now then we have to start to think about the community. We as American Christians have to live a life of love in the midst of hate and division. Love and community are the means by witch we will change the tide of the destruction of the community.

In Matthew 26: 50 - 52 we read:

50 Jesus said to him, "Friend, do what you are here to do." Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51 Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  

Many who favor gun control will use this verse to support their argument but I want to look at it through the context of the individual and the community. Prior to this scene Jesus has been praying in the garden and his disciples have been sleeping. Jesus is fully aware that the hour of his arrest is at hand. For those of us who are believers in Christ appreciate and accept the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, but in that moment his disciples probably saw it very different. Their friend was being arrested, who had committed no crime and they were helpless to do anything. For one disciple the instinct was to defend his friend, who happened to be Jesus, and strike with force in an attempt to stop this unlawful arrest. If this same scenario played out today,would we do any differently. Jesus was focused on the community and the need for the community to be redeemed so they were no longer under the punishment of sin. For this disciple though, he was focused on an individual, Jesus. Today we know that nothing could avert what Jesus had to do but can we say with all honesty, that when we defend the rights of individuals that we are not dramatically altering the makeup and dynamic of the community? I don't know. What I do believe is that every time the individual is raised higher than the community the community suffers and we fail to bear ALL things in love.

In addition to the events over the past few weeks their has been rich theological responses to these events through out the blogosphere. Some have been personal responses to the hurt they have felt from an event in our country. 

Some have challenged me to think outside of myself and about the greater good of the community and what I can do to lift up the community. 

And another has looked closely at the myth of redemptive violence in the face of the violent culture we live in.

As I have tried to work through and process my own emotions and read these thoughtful words I have to make a personal pledge to God and those who read this blog. I want to live a life of love as a faithful Christian and as a response to the love I have received from and God and witnessed God giving to the community. As the community I ask my friends to join me in this pledge and for us to support one another that we might bear ALL things as God has called us to do.

*Please take the time to read the articles link to this post. Through them may God encourage you and challenge you.