Thinking of life and being part of a church has brought me to generalize on the following postulates.
1. Every person we meet has some level of emotional pain in their personality.
2. People seek to avoid situations where they can be hurt again or they become the ones doing the hurting.
3. Living in community with people will always open us up to the possibility of being hurt.
4. Communities consist of wounded people.
5. Community life will be messy.
6. There is no perfect community.
7. Only the Spirit of Christ can heal us and transform our communities.
These are not Axioms per say, they are merely observations from years of experience within Christian communities. Just think of the New Testament itself. A majority of the epistles were occasional and written to specific communities. Unfortunately, the occasions were centered on the messiness of community life and behavior.
I have come to believe that if Christian communities were actually living up the command of Christ to Love one another, we would have a different New Testament or at least one that is much smaller. Yet that is whole point isn't it? We are imperfect and need Christ. Much of the New Testament exists to correct issues within the Christian Community and spur them on to actually live out the message of Christ.
Living in Christian love is very hard when we are being "self protective." We cannot take the risks that love requires if we are trying to protect ourselves from emotional pain. Christ said, "if anyone wishes to see the Kingdom of God they must become as little children." What characterizes a child? A short memory of wrongs? A quickness to forgive? A genuine willingness to risk while loving others?
How often has your young child come home broken hearted and hurt by a friend or close playmate over some little disagreement? Yet several hours later they are playing and carrying on like nothing happened a few hours before. Now as a parent, you may still be mad at little John or Jane for causing your precious child some emotional pain. You may even take measures to protect your child by not letting them play together anymore.
What are we saying when we do this? "If someone hurts you, pull away from them." What a shame! We adults have become so jaded and broken that we can no longer love freely! And we think this is good and normal.?. Over time we have learned to protect ourselves and be reserved with our love. Then Christ asks us to Love unconditionally. What a paradox!
Yet we do pull away from others and isolate ourselves to avoid being hurt. Is that healthy? Is our overprotective action born of love or fear? Do we need to wonder about it.
Over they years, I've often been asked, "Why is the church so dysfunctional?" Could our dysfunction come from not loving as Christ did? To love as a Child does. To freely give oneself and risk the pain caused by letting others into our lives. Is it any wonder that the church is not living as Christ?
I'd rather risk a little pain and experience life in community. I've spent too many years living the jaded life of a self-protecting adult. My prayer is to love as a Child.