My kids have 14 grandmas. Not biologically, of course, but 14 grandmas in our spiritual family. Our community.
Reality television has a strange love for jamming a bunch of strangers together and watching chaos ensue as these strangers attempt to do life, overcome obstacles, lose weight, cook (or whatever the theme of the show is) together. Invariably someone is voted off, tempers flare, and relationships are damaged. You know how the story goes.
But that’s faux community – it’s a cheap, Hollywood-ized version of what people living in community is supposed to look like. Because it’s a sham of what real community is supposed to be the relationships are superficial and short-term. It doesn’t matter who gets the rose, because the odds are that they will not be together long after the reunion show wraps up.
God doesn’t care too much for faux community. He prefers the real deal. He prefers to see people who live together, love together, laugh together, and weep together. Real community is so much more than simply occupying adjacent space to other people. Community is family.
In the Old Testament, community was based on bloodlines and there was a clear hierarchy of how community was based: family -> clan -> tribe -> nation. This is what solidified the Israelites together as the original community of faith. Then Jesus radically changed things up.
As he was gaining fame and attention he was causing embarrassment to his immediate family. The Gospel According to Mark tells us that one time his family even came to his house when there were a ton of people there to see him. The family had one goal – remove Jesus from the public eye and end the embarrassment. So the people told Jesus, “Hey, your mother and brothers and sisters are here!” To that Jesus looks around and says, “Here are my mother, and my brothers, and my sisters – the ones who do the will of God.” He gives a completely new spin on the definition of community. It’s no longer about blood – it’s about a shared spirituality and kinship of faith.
At our church there is a group of ladies, mostly grandmas with a few great-grandmas, who have intentionally taken on the role of surrogate grandparents to me and my kids. It’s wonderful. Even though my parents, grandparents, and in-laws are thousands of miles away God has given us a family to look after us and care for us. I’m glad that my children have those kinds of godly people in their lives to look after them and assist us in raising them. This is real community.
Real community is not content to live in shallow relationships but strives to make meaningful connections where we care for and ARE cared for by others. Here’s the kicker – real community takes a lot of work to build and to maintain. You don’t get it by attending a worship service once a week and sitting in the same row as someone else. You don’t get it by seeing the same parents when you drop off and pick up your kids at school. Real community requires time and energy to know and be known. It requires vulnerability – sharing your life and yourself with others.
It’s not easy – but it’s worth it. I’m glad that my kids have 14 grandmas. Their lives will be richer because of it. My burden as a parent will be lessened because of it. It’s not perfect, and all family has issues, but a family we are. So my question to you is this: Will you accept Jesus’ radical notion of a remade family? Will you put in the time and effort to establish and maintain community with others around you? If so then I’m sure you’ll find your grandmas too.Follow @chrislinzey
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