30 Apr

our demons keep community at bay, because we are forced to encounter the very image of God in one another when we live life together.

many, myself included, are convinced that the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth happens within the context of community. true spiritual community mirrors the relationship of the Trinity – whose image in which we have been created. when we remove ourselves from authentic community and move toward isolation, it becomes much more difficult for us to hear the voice of truth; instead, we believe as true the false accusations and lies launched against our identity and integrity, denying and degrading the divine nature that is in each one of us.

this past weekend, our lead pastor at richwoods spoke about the man possessed by demons in luke 8 and mark 5 (and again in matthew 8, although the matthew account states there were two men, further highlighting the importance of this previous post).

verse 29 in the luke narrative reads ::

‘he had been driven by the demon into solitary places.’

and while this wasn’t the point of the message (or of the passage, for that matter), it gnawed at me. how often do we allow our own demons to drive us into isolation, away from true spiritual community?

so often instead of living life together, in honest and vulnerable authenticity, we shrink back into a sort of spiritual isolation, believing that we are protecting and preserving ourselves – when in reality, it is the demon of Self that is holding us hostage from living the abundant life jesus christ came to give us.

when we ‘do life‘ together with other image bearers, we are forced to see in others and be seen by them as exactly that – image bearers of the Trinity. our fear – of being exposed as frauds or failures, of feeling the pain of our present hypocrisy or reliving the embarrassment of our past humiliation, of failing others in relationship or being failed by them – robs us of the very relationships we were created for. the amount of vulnerability with which we engage one another directly corresponds to the amount of spiritual growth and maturity that will take place in our lives individually and collectively.  yet our demons keep community at bay, because we are forced to encounter the very image of God in one another when we live life together.

but there is hope. there is hope that as we encounter christ (even in each other) that we will be set in our right mind and engage in telling the story to our community of the amazing things God is up to.

may each of us find strength and stability in embracing the risk that is living life together in true spiritual community.


One Response to “isolation.”

  1. gracetracer May 1, 2012 at 4:59 PM #

    My very first experience of Christian community was a period of six months which I spent in Switzerland at L’Abri, the educational/communal ministry founded by Francis Schaeffer. That half-year had a profound influence on my 19-year-old self. I have no illusions about any form of Christian community because I saw the problems as well as the power of it. There is nothing at all like being gathered together for a purpose in a place. One truly does experince the image of God in each other as well as the truth that we are all sinners, saved by grace. It was hard and it was real.

    Peter Beagle wrote that if a way into “Middle Earth” could be found, he would “go, like a shot.” Given balrogs, orcs and dragons, I am not so sure about that. However, given the opportunity to return to intentional Christian community, I would “go, like a shot.” There is power there and growth and trouble and strength beyond what any one person alone can know or deal with.

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