“Let us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good.” Hebrews 10:24-25, Living Bible
Friends in the Faith,
In the narratives of the Hebrew Bible we see the ways in which God ordained the community to be organized and governed. The books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus offer a vast array of rules, guidelines, and laws that would define life in community for the Hebrews. Most of those rules were pretty strict, and for one member of the community to disobey, would cause an abysmal separation from God, potentially bringing damnation to the whole community.
On Chapter 10 of the Book of Hebrews, the author reflects on the grace offered to us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Building community, no longer depends on following rules to appease God’s wrath. This is not to say that we are to abandon our longing to please to God or stray from our journey of sanctification, this will always remain first as Christians. But is does suggest that because Christ brought a “relieving of our minds,” we are able to build community in more productive ways: being helpful and kind, encouraging, and doing good in all the ways we can.
The Scriptures offer many images for us to reflect about what it means to live in community. But the values of a community are always contextual. Even when we can agree on the hallmarks of what it means to be a civil society: respect, honor, truth, etc.; building community will always require that we be mindful of the flavors and tones of what prioritizing values bring people together. We must also be aware of each other’s needs and desires. And the only way we can stay abreast of what is needed to make our communities stronger is through building meaningful relationships with the members of the community.
For the most part, in our culture, we are never eager to share our needs and desires over small talk on the line at the cash register. We only feel most comfortable sharing our needs and desires when we have built trust. Now when you think deeply about the mission and commission of the church of Jesus Christ, which is, to transform the world. A healthy level of trust is required through strong meaningful relationships so that we are keenly aware of the needs and desires of the community around us. Our job requires us, not to build walls around us, but to be bridge builders in our communities.
My vision for Totowa UMC, I see us like detectives searching for cracks of disunity, breaches in relationships, and streams of separation. I see us, with the Holy Spirit building rope, wood, tension, iron bridges of all kinds to ensure that all can find their way to Jesus.
With You on the Journey,