by the Rev. Willie Israel
Staying in the Loop
From the very beginning, God has intended for his people to live in community. In the book of Genesis, after pronouncing his whole creation "good", God says, "it is not good for man to be alone". I Corinthians 12 describes the Christian community as a single body composed of interdependent parts.
However our 21st century culture produces many stresses that keep us from relying on each other in community. We are encouraged to be self-reliant and independent. Getting ahead of the competition is seen by our society as a virtue with its own rewards. We are taught from childhood not to trust others and to insist on our own rights at all costs. Modern spirituality often places an emphasis on our personal relationship with god, at the expense of an awareness as who we are as members of God's extended family.
Yet there is a reason that Jesus chose twelve of his closest followers to be apostles. These men came from diverse backgrounds and were often competitive and contentious. But Jesus worked with them until they formed a powerful community.
If we want to grow spiritually as a community in the way God has intended, Sunday morning worship is just the beginning. We must eat together, play together, work together, laugh and cry together. We must care for the whole community's young people and elders. We must be willing to learn about and honor each other's culture and traditions.
At Rolling Hills we have a treasure that many larger churches and denominations try to attain. We have a congregation that embraces believers from many places and many cultures. Our congregation can become a rich, interdependent community if we make our church the center of our lives. Choir, Bible study, Modern Maturists, or work groups are just a few of the opportunities that will help us develop the bonds that characterize the people of Christ. Let us be aware of our gifts as an offering to God and as a way of living in community.