“The Church is not a place to fulfill our superficial/social needs, it is to be a place of prayer, forgiving, and reconciling”.
This is one of many quotes that I have written down from this year’s Young Adult Retreat. The topic this year was “Thrive” and the speaker was Pastor Michael Lee who presented a mistaken view of what many Christians think Community is.
The first night Pastor Michael spoke, he shared how divided the Church was before with the Jews and Gentiles. During those times, the Gentiles were not allowed step within the complex of the house of worship and if they were caught, it was punishable by death. This story was to provide context of how divided the community was back then and how much prejudice there was among the people that wanted to worship God. In modern times, we may not be driven by such extreme prejudice, but we are driven by preferences. These preferences may include what the dominant ethnicity of a Church, how “trendy” or “hipster” the building is, how many weekly social events there are, how many of your friends attend or even how one may like the preaching style of a pastor. Not to say that those things are bad, but when these preferences start to disappoint you, one tends to forget that the cornerstone of a community is not on your preferences, but is in Christ.
For me personally, over the last few years, many of my friends that were in my 2012 graduating school year have left to either Northern California or different other cities. During this time, I thought that my community had gotten smaller, but I failed to realize that everybody at church is my community. My community is not only the friends that I hold dear and I came to realize that I was the one who was pushing others away. During this retreat, I had deeper discussions with people that I have always just said hello or had surface level interactions and found that it was enjoyable, but most importantly Christ Centered. It took more effort to be vulnerable then I was comfortable with, but I realized that having non-conflict/harmonious community is not a true one as that is superficial and easily broken down. So even though it is more difficult to talk with people that I do not normally do, at the end of the day I feel more refreshed spiritually knowing that I had meaningful interaction with other church members where the focus was not about sports or movie, but was about Christ.