Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Community: A Matter of Trust

I wrote last week on "risking love," and argued that a community ought not seek to ensure that its members never hurt one another. That is neurotic and severely limits our maturation. Instead, a community's members must strive to practice love and forgiveness, and learn how to heal and reconcile when hurt comes. We cannot choose not to be hurt by one another; we can only choose whether to keep walking together and share God's redemption or not.

Being faithful means that we choose to keep being together, as long as we can listen, and as long as we are willing to learn obedience to the word of God that our brothers and sisters bring to us. We do this because it is how God wills our salvation. We aren't risking on particular community members, but staking our lives on the trustworthiness of God's own plan.

This takes trust: trust that we are loved by God, and trust that we will continue to be loved by his New Community. Some people will tell you that trust means believing that a person will never hurt you, and that God will never allow you to feel pain. I reject that. Trust cannot be a savvy assessment of the odds, and taking our chances that we probably won’t be hurt.

In trust, we choose to be realistic, understanding that if we love, we will certainly feel badly at some point. Trust is the willingness to feel badly, and deciding that in the light of the healing and love we’re receiving from Christ and his Church, we will stay with one another, and be obedient to him anyway.

Choosing God's way of transformation and healing requires choosing the pain that comes with it. Otherwise, we will find ourselves changing our minds and backing out on Jesus every time things get too hard.

Trust isn’t about calculating the odds of someone else’s faithfulness, but about choosing to let myself be hurt. If I wait for a completely risk-free environment before trusting, I will never know what it is to freely give and receive the love of God.

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Peter said...

"a community ought not seek to ensure that its members never hurt one another"

Good word. Yep -- this is right on. We are still sinners -- guess it figures that we might still sin! Being in community means we embrace that too. What was it Paul wrote about accepting one another as Christ accepted us?


Allison said...

Oh, you gotta be careful with that, though.

Bryan said...

Good words Kyle. I agree with what you're saying. BUT, I've not seen that lived out with most faith communities I know about. The reason, I think is because it takes a very, very long time for that kind of trust and maturity to develop. So, yeah, I hope to engage in community life like you describe. I've not given up on the idea but know it will take a long time and won't be easy.

Kyle said...

Yes. A very long time. So it's a good thing we've already started. ;0)

And to learn that kind of trust of God, and of specific persons, takes months and years. Happily, God has years to be with us. So now we've got to learn to spend years with one another.

Bryan said...

Sounds like a vow of stability to me. :-)

Therese Z said...

If you replace the word "community" with the word "family" in the post, then it becomes even easier to understand.

If we're brothers and sisters IN Christ, we are truly siblings, and we cannot be permanently separated, nor can we walk away permanently. We're helpless in the face of the relationship, it can't be denied. Given that, uh, permanence, the relationship has to be an ever-increasing sacrifice and servanthood to others, charity, love, patience.....

Kyle said...

Yeah, the challenge for me right now is this: how to live into committment with folks when my vocation itself requires a certain degree of transience?

If my best laid plans work out, I'll be spending a year in England, at least one more in Lexington, and perhaps following with with more graduate and doctoral work who-knows-where.

Postage. Lots of money for postage...