Community Idolatry

I long and pray for deeper community in our church in 2012. This is a good heart check on motivations from Bob Thune and Will Walker:

Community is about God. Community exists to declare his praises and to exalt his goodness and to display his excellencies. True community – the community we were made for – is God-centered and God-focused and God-exalting.

The reason our attempts at community are often shallow, stale, and unfulfilling is that we have made community about ourselves. Perhaps we could call this “community idolatry.” Instead of worshiping God, we worship idols. We jump into the vehicle of community and use it to chase our own false gods. The chart below outlines some of the ways our idolatry plays out in community.

Heart Idol // Underlying Desire // What it often sounds like in a “Christianized” or church setting…

approval // I want a community that always approves of me and never challenges my opinions or preferences // “Can’t we all just get along? Why do we have to talk about issues that bring disagreement or conflict?”

control // I want a community that meets on my schedule, fits my priorities, and doesn’t make demands // “I’d love to be in community, but I’m really busy, and nothing really works with my schedule…”

reputation // I want a community that thinks highly of me // “I DO repent of sin, in my own personal life; I just don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about it in a group setting.”

success // I want a community that’s successful – where we’re making progress and ‘getting stuff done’ (according to my criteria) // “This community feels like a waste of time. We’re not accomplishing anything!”

security // I want a community where I am safe, secure, and never threatened // “We need to spend more time together, so we can really grow deep and feel safe with each other…”

pleasure // I want a community that’s always fun and enjoyable and doesn’t take any work // “Meeting every Tuesday night seems really forced. Why can’t we just hang out spontaneously?”

knowledge // I want a community that gives me a platform to share everything I know // “We don’t study the Bible enough in this group; we should talk less about people’s lives and more about Scripture.”

recognition // I want a community where I can ‘stand out from the crowd’ and be recognized for the awesome person that I am // “I’ve led groups like this before… would you like me to lead this one?”

comfort // I want a community made up of my already-existing friends, where I don’t have to work to get to know anyone // “I tried to join a community group, but the relationships just weren’t natural; we didn’t have much in common…”

Underneath all these idols is the basic idol of SELF. Our various heart idols are tightly nuanced forms of self-worship. What kills community is the fact that we love ourselves more than we love God and others. Only the Bible recognizes that what really hinders community is self-worship. Every neighborhood, every city, every society is an attempt at creating community. But the standard human approach to community is external – find better friends, be nicer to people, build a more stable and just society. Only the Bible says: repent and worship God. The path to true, healthy community is the path of repentance and faith. And this path is made possible through the gospel.

HT: Nick Carter

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