Community by Miriam Barnhart
This topic has become a good friend of mine over the past year, bouncing in and out of my thought life at its choosing. So in advance, thank you for reading, and welcome to my process.
Whether I am stepping into a church service on Sunday morning or taking my seat in the conference room on Mondays, I have the same set of learned actions. I answer the same generic questions with the same generic answers: “How are you?” “I am good.” It has become the rhythm of my step, another box to check off. But how did I get this way, how did we become so shallow, so terrified of sharing our lives with people?
The more I look, the more I notice the loneliness that rides on the backs of so many. We have chosen to plant our flag on the territory of “privacy” rather than jumping aboard the opportunity of transparency and relationship. What would happen if we decided to break these unwritten laws of isolation and intertwine our lives with others? What would it look like if we actually decided to live in community?
“We do not exist for ourselves alone, and it is only when we are fully convinced of this fact that we begin to love ourselves properly and thus also love others.” - Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island
Community. What does it look like to think beyond the universe of me? What does it look like to forge the way for more than myself? To push the normality of the 21st century's church life and make way for something far greater?
These are a lot of questions, so to give you a better framework for what I’m talking about here, let me highlight one of the first examples of this kind of lifestyle:
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:44-46)
Community is real. It is vulnerability, transparency, sticky, intertwining, in your business - living. It is not for those who only wish to get their feet wet. In order to commune, we must courageously ask those around us about their lives. We must engage in the lives of others and expect the same of those around us.
A few years ago I was falling into a deep hole of isolation and brokenness when my Acts 2 community caught me in all of my stickiness. They listened, they spoke, and they stayed. Among us, there was no need. This experience has been a cornerstone in who, I, Miriam Barnhart, am today. This is how I know that community is possible. This is how I know the magnitude that a community tidal wave can have.
What could the world look like if we began to look at ourselves as supporting pillars rather than the one on the throne? Let’s be courageous. Let’s do life together. Let’s commune.