In a recent sermon, I stated, “Virtue ethics are harder to measure. Virtues deal with character, it’s not measurable, it’s only experienced. You can only tell you have a certain virtue when you’re around other people. I’m the most patient person I know, when I’m alone.
“Put me in a line or have me wait for the kids to get ready for bed… oh man. Not so patient! I want to have the virtues of patience, listening, and joy. I want to be approachable, interesting and interested. Virtue ethics are only discovered in community.”
Community. This word has continued to come back to me time and time again. We live in a world that’s become more increasingly connected and more isolated at the same time. A recent national survey stated that:
More than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt like the people around them “are not necessarily with them.” And 2 in 5 felt like “they lack companionship,” that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and that they “are isolated from others.”
We are witnessing a shift in our culture. Institutions and social groups are declining precisely when they are needed the most. What’s up with that?
I think two things are up (among a host of others, but let’s focus okay?)
We want things to be done perfectly and exactly to our standards. If a company steps out of line of a certain strain of thought, we’re told to boycott them. No room for a margin of error. If someone says something that challenges our worldview, we threaten to leave, take our ball and go home.
Jesus didn’t play this game. When a rich, young guy wanted to join up, Jesus asked, “Do you love God?”
“Yes!” said the rich guy.
“Do you follow all of God’s commands and read the scripture? Are you versed in the tradition?”
“Oh yeah! I’ve followed the commands and I even lead a Bible study at my synagogue!” he replied.
“Great! Sell all your stuff and follow me.”
His face dropped. He couldn’t do it. So that rich young man walked away from the love story.*
Jesus is about the transformation of your entire person, not just the parts you want. It seems we will only join something that is perfect and are not willing to put in the work to make something better. This is the sin of consumerism which says “You can have it your way if you throw enough money at it.”
You cannot buy your way to becoming who God wants you to be. In fact, you might just be called to give it up to become who you really are. There are no shortcuts in the Christian life that I’m aware of.
Sometimes we can’t get off the couch. Sometimes all we can do is binge a whole season of a show. And that’s fine, there’s a time for that (What shows are you loving right now? We’re digging Lost in Space and Westworld). But if that’s all you do, then there’s an issue.
Many of us want the six-pack abs, but how many of us are willing to put in the work?
Many of us think we can write a novel, but how many of us sit down and write 1,000 words a day?
Sometimes we can say we want something, but are really content with where we are. As the song says, “You can get addicted to a certain type of sadness.”
Is your desire for change bigger than your apathy? A better life awaits you outside your door, if you care to get that far.
Need for Community
Humans are social creatures, we don’t do well on our own. We are better together. Yet people are hard to deal with. They can hurt, wound, and be nasty. I have found that community is worth the risk. I have been hurt, but I have grown from the hurt.
I am becoming a more complete person.
I am hearing different perspectives than my own and my own echo chamber.
I am finding Christ in my neighbor and myself.
I am in awe of the diversity of our Creator. There are so many types of flora, fauna, and personalities!
I am finding that people care and are willing to listen and help.
So take a risk on community. You’re welcome here at Medina U3C!
If you’re already a part of our community, but find something you want to change or improve; let’s talk!
If you’re happy with the way things are going, epic! Glad you’re finding meaning!
We got this… Together. In community. We got this.
Questions: How has community affected your life? What are some other factors to being lonely? This being a church blog, the community assumed here is a church but where else have you found community?