The Fight for Community

It’s not uncommon for me to be at home on a Saturday night, in my pyjamas, watching Netflix and enjoying myself. Busyness definitely makes us appreciate time away from others. Even though I recognise I need downtime, I can’t help but feel like I am missing something when I scroll through Facebook and observe the latest exploits of my friends and acquaintances. They always seem to be having more fun than me!

I’ve heard the sermons referencing Facebook as the ‘glossy, glass half full image of others’, not to be confused with reality. So I’m not experiencing the “I wish that was me” thoughts but the thought I can’t avoid is “why don’t I always feel apart of a community?” Because they always look like they are a part of some awesome huge social network.  It’s not that I desire being a social butterfly, but I always thought having a group of friends much like the Seinfeld crew would have been a realistic scenario. If your not familiar with Seinfeld, it was a sitcom in the 90’s that centred on comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and his 3 friends. The four friends met with each other, what seemed liked daily…in a coffee shop, at Seinfeld’s home, at baseball games, movies, dinner. They knew everything about each other, the good the bad and the downright narcissistic.

That’s all I really want. A few friends that I can share with, that know me well, that I can have coffee with and that I can be myself around.  The fact that I am a Christian, also means that I would like friends that I can have genuine spiritual community with and grow together in God.

I actually don’t think it’s unrealistic. After all, the early church demonstrated community that crossed many of the ‘friendship’ rules that today would be considered a social faux pas. They lived together, they worked together, they went on mission together. But ultimately, they grew each other, together. Was this the product of being in close proximity? Maybe. I’m lucky to see people (that I refer to as friends) once a fortnight.

What I do know is that our society is the most well connected of all time, on account of social media and other forms of communication and yet we all seem so lonely. See in my frank discussions with others, including my connect group, it appears that I am not the only one that craves a community. Many in my connect group, are a part of it because at some point they desired more community.

This is a really urgent and important issue to me. If Christians are struggling to experience community, we are potentially missing an element of our faith that is a selling point.  Community should be fought for if we are to see new believers become a part of it. Young adults and youth probably see this issue very differently. When you are young, you will often compromise sleep to be with your mates. However, as you progress in age and responsibility, we don’t give friendship the same kind of value.

So what is the answer? What are we missing or not doing?

Maybe the clincher is that there is a fight against community. Which means we might have to make sacrifices to establish it for our own friendship circles. Sacrifices that we aren’t really ready to make. Could I have had a friend over whilst I watch Netflix in my pyjamas (and not care that they are seeing me in my pyjamas)? Does my house really need to have everything ready before having people over? Or can I prepare a meal together with a friend? Maybe I could exercise with a friend, instead of worrying about them seeing my awkward and slow run? Or maybe I could just stop looking at Facebook……