Several hundred years ago human history took an unexpected turn. Tinkerers in Europe’s glass shops began coating glass with a variety of chemicals, and by accident the modern mirror was born. Now mirrors existed for centuries, but they were always dull or distorted. But with the advent of such a clear mirror, we were able to see ourselves as never before.
And so the age of “me” was ushered in.
Anthropologists find it no surprise that following the invention of the mirror and several other inventions, history sees an explosion in individualistic thinking and philosophy. The groundwork of modern society was laid.
Fast forward a few hundred years and we live in an era of selfies, social media, reality tv, and movies. We live in a culture that tells us that “me” above all else - and the culture has infected the American church as well.
In recent decades church leaders, in an attempt to reach out to the “unchurched” transformed Sunday morning fellowship and worship into a time of anonymity and entertainment. Rather than calling them with the truly good news of the Gospel, they called them by catering to their brokenness and selfish needs.
And what we have now in many corners of the church is the belief that our faith and relationship with God is about “me.” It is for me, about me, and my primary concern is my own faith.
In many ways we have lost the true sense of community that first century Christianity experienced.
One of these ways is how we as modern Christians chose to go it alone in our faith.
I was talking with a friend at another church recently and he shared how a family left their church. I asked why and he said, “We got too close.” He said people in the church began to learn about challenges in the family’ lives. And when the people did, they stepped in to those places with love and grace. But, as our culture trains us, the family didn’t welcome such a step and they chose to go it alone.
As members of the same broader culture, we are each equally vulnerable to making such a mistake. It feels so comfortable to keep people at an arm’s length away. Enjoy a laugh, but not shed any tears.
But that is not what the Gospel tells us.
The Gospel calls us to an intimacy and authenticity not only with our Heavenly Father, but with one another.
Paul describes this in Ephesians 4:1-6: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
At Mercy Hill Church, our desire is to see each person- from the youngest child to the oldest adult- be active and engaged in the lives of one another. Since such fellowship is not necessarily natural in our culture, we have provided several avenues to help facilitate these relationships. These include community groups and now our new mentoring ministry.
As you spend time in reflection and prayer this week, please evaluate your own engagement in the Mercy Hill community. If you haven’t connected with others yet, what steps could you take to move towards relationship with others? If you have entered into community, reflect on your view of those relationships, and whether they are casual and comfortable or if they are authentic and transformational.