Learning to live in genuine community is one of the central goals that we have set for ourselves. And, to be honest, we did not set the goal—it is set before us in Scripture as one of the basic elements of the Christian faith. We are one in Jesus Christ, and this is not to be limited to Sunday morning when everyone is wearing their best clothes, when pretty much everyone took a shower, and everyone is on their best behavior. This is the place where we are woven into community, but the thing is not supposed to come unraveled as we are pulling out of the parking lot.
But community on Monday morning . . . that’s another thing. And Thursday afternoon can be even more difficult. Because living in community is what takes the rough edges off . . . but before it takes the rough edges off, living in community reveals those rough edges.
Some of you are regularly late to things. Some of you don’t return things that you have borrowed in a timely way. Some of you think that community means other people baby-sitting for you. Some of you think that community means that your business doesn’t have to honor delivery dates, or honor your word in other respects. Some of you think that community means having a right to be a grouch. Some of you think that community means flirting with all the sisters, or with all the brothers as the case may be.
Community brings all this out, but community, over time, is also supposed to deal with it.
We are tangled up in one another’s lives, and this is as it ought to be. But we are not tangled up so that we would surrender to various forms of thoughtlessness.
Confronting this kind of thing as appropriate, covering it in love as appropriate, is the training ground that God has given to us. We are a rag tag collection of forgiven sinners, and a number of us have some messy things lying about in our lives. The task before us is to pick up, and to help one another do so in all patience.
So patience does not mean leaving it alone. Addressing it firmly does not mean impatience. And learning how to do this is one of God’s great gifts to us.