“Alone, we can do little. Together, we can do so much.”
-- Helen Keller
Community. It’s a word that is used a lot in describing our interactions among people. In the midst of COVID-19, it’s an aspect of our life that we certainly miss. Community is the people you do life with and the people who do life with you. Communities have the opportunity to work together to shape our culture for good.
I’m thankful to be part of several communities: my family, my work leading KICS and B2THEWORLD, my church, and my global community of the brothers and sisters in Christ, who are also considered to be sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. These communities have confounded the general, mainstream culture--it’s a joy and a gift to be a part of them.
As I reflect on my life, my communities have and continue to shape who I am. My communities feed into me and allow me to be a productive member of society. My communities include my parents, spouse, mentors, coaches, advisors, board members, teams, and friends. I learn from each of them and they sharpen me as a person, leader, and contributor.
I strongly believe in the power of communities to confound our modern culture by daring to take the road less traveled. Here are three commitments we can make to build a community that confounds culture.
Commitment 1: Community committed to the collective.
This looks like a community that thinks us instead of me, ours instead of mine. It’s a community that thinks of the greater good, versus what’s more convenient, profitable, or easier for me as an individual. It’s a community that is others-centered rather than me-centered. It’s a community that looks out for each other. And in doing so, the entire community moves forward together.
In our current times, collectivism is so antithetical to how we are trained to think. While we often say, “Think of others ahead of yourselves,” most of our actions are built around our own person moving forward at the expense of others. We think more about our pay or our benefits increasing, even when we know that this might mean that of others would not.
A community that confounds culture is just the opposite. It understands that when we all move forward, we all get better. When we all take steps forward, the entire community is in a better place.
Commitment 2: Community committed to a calling.
Being part of a community that shares a common ethos. An ethos and a calling that are bigger than any individual self. This calling can be spiritual and it can be material. This can be a calling that focuses on sharing Christ’s love, and it can be focused on felt needs in the world today. They both go hand-in-hand.
I think of callings in terms of verbal proclamations of Jesus’ love as well as tangible signs of his love in everyday life. Whether that might mean sharing the good news of Christ or educating every child. They are both part and parcel of bringing the good news to others.
As we focus on a calling that is bigger than ourselves, one that’s committed to a call which is rooted and grounded in Christ’s love, our community can confound the culture we are in.
Commitment 3: Community committed to Christ as commander.
As followers of Christ, this final commitment is the pinnacle of community. To follow Christ as our commander and be committed to his ways has an incredible effect on the world around us. Too often, we get caught in minor details as believers that cause major divisions between us. This is not what Christ desired. He even prayed for us in John 17 that we would be unified, yet we know all too well that this is not always the case. We have found more reasons to move apart from each other than we have to come together.
Christ’s commands are clear. In fact, they can be summarized in three statements: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Go and make disciples of all the nations by being Jesus Christ to them.
What would our communities look like if they lived out these three commands? I personally believe that our communities would indeed confound our culture.
One community that I’m reminded of that lived these commitments out in meaningful ways was the Clapham Sect, William Wilberforce’s community. Here’s an excerpt from the book, The Clapham Sect:
“William Wilberforce is a bright star among the world’s great social reformers. His campaign for abolition changed the course of history. But he did not achieve success on his own. In the late 18th century a group of courageous individuals was forming, which would change the face of Britain and its empire: the Clapham Sect. They were a varied group--bankers, MPS, vicars, merchants, poets, editors, colonists, and a brewer--all unified by their desire to change society and the world, for the better.”
These sorts of commitments require sacrifice: leaving what’s familiar or comfortable, being willing to protect and defend those who need help, and a constant mindset of thinking of our neighbors instead of ourselves.
Are you willing to go ahead of people and help them accomplish what God has for them? Are you willing to help those in need? Are you willing to give your best? Are you willing to live out the call God has for you?
If we are committed to the practices above, I believe that, together, our communities could share Christ’s love, eradicate poverty, educate every child, feed the hungry, house the homeless, and so much more. In doing so, we could be a blessing to our local community, our country, our region, and the world.
Who is one person that you could go ahead of and help? Who is one person that you need to ask for help in order to move forward? What’s one step you can take to help your community move forward?
Feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.