Once again I stood outside right after worship, and I just looked around me. Our church was serving breakfast burritos and everyone was eating, but I also saw the beauty of a genuine church community. I saw regulars talking to new people, adults playing with children, hurting receiving support from concerned friends, a hand on a shoulder with a prayer. It was community and it was beautiful. But the truth is, about a half-dozen years ago I didn’t see it as all that great because – it wasn’t big enough. I’d become convinced that we needed more people, more money, more movers and shakers, we just needed more to really experience community. This conviction absolutely blinded me to the beauty of the actual community God was creating right in front of my eyes.
It reminds me of this insight from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his little book “Life Together” as he addresses what community around the person of Christ is and is not.
If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ. . . Only God knows the real state of our fellowship, of our sanctification. What may appear weak and trifling to us may be great and glorious to God. Just as the Christian should not be constantly feeling his spiritual pulse, so, too, the Christian community has not been given to us by God for us to be constantly taking its temperature. The more thankfully we daily receive what is given to us, the more surely and steadily will fellowship increase and grow from day-to-day as God pleases.