From Awesomeness to Flourishing
We are a polar people. On the one pole, we love to be exceptional, to be special. You see this sweet narcissism on social media; we post our best and brightest moments, but often the purpose is to demonstrate the singularity of ourselves. But a funny thing happens on the road to awesomeness: we find that being awesome doesn’t result in being loved.
Therefore, on the other pole, we long for community. “We” - not just the church, but western society. We want to belong, to be loved, because we intuitively sense what has always been true: we flourish in true community.
But we and the world, left to ourselves, would address the problem by leaving the narcissism in place, and laboring harder to produce compensating community. The church is not immune to this. I wonder if there have ever been more buzzwords relating to “community” in the church. We at EFree have tried to avoid this; we keep our philosophy simple, and we have tried to lay down simple tracks for community to grow by.
Yet in our narcissism, and in our predilection to trust what we can see - programs, buzzwords, etc. - we can leave out the very thing that all community is meant to exist by - God. All community, from infinity past, was and was meant to exist with God at the center. It was never meant to be otherwise. The further away any community of humans - churches included - drifts from God being at its center, the more dysfunctional that community will become.
It is only when God is at the center that any community really flourishes. Any community can shine on the outside but not really flourish. Fake flourishing is everywhere: behind beauty, and wealth and success, there is so often emptiness.
The only way that we can move toward true flourishing - the life that we’re all created to pursue - is through community with God at the center. So engage in your Community and a Discipleship Group. But more deeply, seek to develop relationships that are grounded first and primarily by a joint love of God and his gospel. Let age, stage in life, wealth, and location be relegated to second place.
Because these kinds of friendships cause us to see and move toward Jesus. Only in him are we able to move away from narcissism, and open ourselves up to being ourselves. Because in Jesus we see that we are worse than we would like to think, and loved, far beyond what we allow ourselves to imagine.