Most people think of community as a fun filled time to get together with friends,have a bite to eat, maybe a pint or two, but in reality, community is a dirty word.
It hit me the other day as we are journeying through the book of John. In chapter 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead…which is pretty cool, then he says the unbelievable…[You] “Unwrap his bindings” I have read over this verse hundreds of times and yet for some reason, maybe the season of life we are in, it hit me as the true sign of discipleship in community. Lazarus and been dead for four days. Even the family was embarrassed because they hadn’t used the family oil for his burial, so he had some funk on him!
Jesus isn’t phased, “Unwrap him!” even though he stinks, and it’s not proper, and it’s unclean, and it violates all of our Jewish rules and regs, and oh yeah…he stinks.
True community is a lot like this. Teresa and I have this weird anointing for living life with people, even in the four day old dead stinking stuff of life. This is community. This is the unwrapping of the things that bind us. This is real life.
Stuff happens, it stinks, it’s real…it’s life
Notice that Jesus didn’t tell a specific individual to unwrap Lazarus. He told the community. There were lots of people standing around, so Jesus figured to put them to work. Unwrap him…disciple him in the context of YOUR community. Get your hands dirty, don’t worry about what people say, don’t worry about all the models you’ve been taught on real discipleship, just get in there and get dirty. Get into his stuff, get into his life.
Jesus brings us to life, it’s our job to discple. It’s our joy to bring people into a real relationship with Jesus in the context of community.
When we came to our city to plant KeyStone Church, we started hearing people say things like, “we long for real community…and…please don’t start another American church…and we really just want relationship over religion.”
I agree. But what we are asking for is messy, ugly at times, and smells. It’s the ability to be real, even when we are dying to something, we may not say all the right things, we may screw it up royally, but we are real.
“You can’t handle the truth!” That famous line from Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men” rings in my ears every time someone says..”I just want real community.” Really? Is that want you really want? Ok, let’s do it. I’m all in. I’m willing to get dirty, smell your crap, change your diaper, and walk with you through the sewers of life…are you? So take your freakin mask off, and let’s get to it!
Jesus wants us to make disciples. This happens best in the context of living life together. My friend Brock loved the phrase, “life on life” it means just folding people into your everyday routine. Living in community means people have access to you. They know your junk, and you know theirs. Your not afraid of the smell of death, because honestly, we are all dying to something.
Community…not your average dirty word.