Community vs. Individualism
Community being those we came to South Africa with, and those living around us.
Granted we picked a difficult month to be deliberate about building these relationships, being as my friend Diane put it, "I'm a ticking time bomb" with this baby due in just 10 days. But these relationships are important to us, and we want to make them priority.
So often community is this concept we like to talk about, read up on and the idea ends up being more appealing than the reality. The reality of community is to love and serve people. To revolt against individualism and instead choose to need one another.
This is a difficult concept because our culture in America does not render relying on others. We are self sufficient. Individualistic. We need to make or own living. We need to think of and for ourselves; no one else.
Check out an article Greg Boyd wrote in the Christian Examiner titled "The Idol of Individualism". I also recommend his book, The Myth of A Christian Religion.
As opposed to other countries, we Americans can fly solo pretty well in the states. And we value efficiency over relationships.
But, this concept of community was in the beginning with the Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We were made for community and intimacy with each other. And it's how the early church functioned in Acts 2:42-47, "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
One thing that has stretched Kevin and I these past four months is asking for help. Without a car and needing to start from the ground up on furnishing our home, we rely on others in moments of need. Whether we need to borrow a car to make a midwife appointment, or borrow a vacuum, asking for help is humbling.
But it shouldn't be. It should be the norm.
So this is where we find ourselves this month. Wanting to build deeper relationships and let those we are in community with know we are here. Whether its having people over for dinner, or tea & asking how we can pray, or lending something of material value, we want to learn how to share ourselves well and selflessly.
We won't grasp the concept in one month, but we can start. We want to dismantle years of individualism that has been engraved into our minds.
Thank you Matt & Carolyn Tobias for your challenging and encouraging Skype conversation. We value your friendship, perspective and time spent paving the way to what community really looks like.