Frat Houses and Country Clubs
Are we just frat houses and country clubs? In all of our talk about community and fellowship, are we missing something?
What does it mean to be in community? We talk from time to time in our groups about being in fellowship. One of our frequent statements is to be in the Word, be in prayer and be in community. But there is a huge danger if we allow this idea to stay just words and an idea.
Reading a little Shane Claiborne, sort of a monkish fellow himself, who rightly observed,
Community is pretty hip these days. The longing for community is in all of us, to love and to be loved. But if community doesn’t exist for something beyond ourselves, it will die, atrophy, suffocate.
Roger Olson, another thoughtful theologian, lets loose on the idea that this word, “community” and rightly argues it has become essentially meaningless due to its overuse and misuse. Ultimately community means nothing more, Olson argues, than a description of a group who apparently share a characteristic – the gay community, the stamp collecting community, etc. The point he is making is, of course, that simply sharing a common characteristic hardly qualifies that group as a community.
A lot of us will go right to Acts and the community that was formed following Peter’s declaration on the day of Pentacost, and rightly so. But we need to go back to the beginnings and see what the explicit intent of God was and has been throughout the Word.
We can go all the back to the Exodus, and find that God sought a holy people, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5-6 ESV (Next week maybe will put some flesh on this idea)
Maybe God’s intent was to form a new humanity with distinct practices that act as a contrasting culture to the rest of society. Thinking that a couple of things we need to note, first, its more about being formed by God, and second, it may look like but isn’t really a reflection of the greater culture we find ourselves in. And this is really hard.
But otherwise we go to church (whether only on Sundays or even with the postmodern understanding of doing church) and leave God’s house no different and that makes all this thinking about community necessary and real because it seems that is exactly what we do and frankly that is rather scary.
To me what happens with all of this, we come to be part of something but that something never moves beyond a good time – a time of some release but release without change, without getting at what is down deep inside. And that is sad. Ultimately we become a “community” of radical individuals sharing a name but nothing else. And frankly, a frat house or country club may look more appealing. Something to think about.
What do you think?
Be blessed and be a blessing.