Welcome and thanks for participating in day 11 of the ARISE fast and devotional blog. If you haven’t read the previous days, please go back and read them before reading todays, as these thoughts will build off of one another.
Day 11: Communitas
“We are word-shaped beings who live word-shaped lives within word-shaped communities.” – Jonathan Merritt
September 11th, 2001 is a day that Americans will never forget. Like many of you, I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news of what was happening in New York City. From north to south, east to west, Americans put down our differences and united around the banner of prayer, love and concern for the people of New York. We were glued to the television news while our hearts were momentarily transplanted from living rooms around the United States into the wreckage of the lower Manhattan.
It was during this time that Americans watched a powerful transformation take place within the hearts of New Yorkers.
A people that are usually known for their brash, no-nonsense persona and hard exterior, almost immediately became individuals who were caring, self-sacrificing and generous. They set aside all differences, humbled themselves and served one another for a greater purpose. They worked tirelessly, often putting themselves in harm’s way, without food or sleep, to try and help other people that they didn’t even know. Black or white, republican or democrat, rich or poor, Yankees or Mets… even Red Sox, nothing mattered except caring for and helping one another. Boroughs and neighborhoods that were once separated by a 100 years of racial and environmental tension now came together.
It was amazing to watch. And I know some who are reading this lived it firsthand. I can only imagine.
The events of September 11th created a deep form of community we often call communitas. Communitas is the Latin word we get our word community from. But in cultural anthropology the word communitas has come to mean the spirit (ethos) of community that is seen during extreme times… times when we desperately need one another… times like September 11th. Communitas takes a community to the next level through a shared experience that makes everyone equal and removes all previously present social barriers.
Foreigners become family. Enemies become blood brothers. Competitors become comrades. And through the ordeal, they become lifelong allies.
Soldiers in battle experience communitas. Jews who survived the holocaust experience communitas. The early church movement experienced communitas.
But communitas can also be found in far less hazardous situations. Sports teams often experience communitas. Long term mission teams often experience communitas. And sometimes, churches even experience communitas – especially when they have to go through difficult times together.
Within the ethos of communitas is the understanding that the “we” will come before the “me.” It is understood that what needs to be done cannot be done alone. We will all have to work together. Therefore, there must be self-sacrifice for the greater purpose of accomplishing a goal – whether saving a life beneath the rubble or scoring a goal – we must set individual desires aside for the sake of others.
The early church movement developed great communitas. They set aside their differences for the sake of the church. Their preferences, plans and privileges were abandoned for the sake of the cause of Jesus.
The later institution of the church became the polar opposite. The church leaders often cared only for themselves. They used their exalted position to rob from the poor. They manipulated the masses for their own gain. It was a selfish form of Christianity. And a selfish Christian is an oxymoron.
People of the Jesus movement put others first. They give up their rights because the cause of Christ compels them. They don’t need to be first. They are not entitled, and the only title they seek is servant. They know that God bestows his blessing where there is unity, and unity within a community means the cause advances.
The cause of Christ is all that matters. This cause will cause you to face giants, sweat blood and wash feet.
The cause of Christ is to work together with our church to dig through the rubble of broken lives and bleeding hearts to find the one and bring them hope and healing. That’s all that matters. When you believe that… act on that… give your life to that… you become a part of a communitas movement that started in an upper room almost 2,000 years ago.
The few. The proud. The Movement.
JOIN THE MOVEMENT.
Esse Quam Videri,
Meditate and reflect on these verses and questions:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-27
1. What is the problem with “selfish Christianity”? What are some long term effects of “selfish Christianity?”
2. What areas do you struggle with selfishness?
3. The unity in Acts 2 (above) is incredible. What do you think God could do with a church of incredible unity?
– Pray that God removes any selfish spirit within you.
– Pray that you become a model communitas to the church and world.
– Pray that ARISE would have incredible unity, and that God would pour out His Spirit in a special and unique way.