I know I’m about 10 years late to the cool party…I’ve been reading, “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller.
Lots to chew on there, but right now I only want to get into one thing that he talks about, “community.”
I know its such a buzzword, and like most buzzwords it doesn’t take long before I get sick of them. Along with things in Latin, Hebrew tattoos, the word missional, and serving fair-wage-hand-milled-organic-shook-the-hand-of-the-farmer coffee at church coffee hour (well nevermind, that’s cool)…it gets over promoted, starts to lose its true meaning, and I’m a bit tired of the buzz.
Well anyways, after getting over the overuse of what has become an ambiguous word, “community”, I really started thinking about what Donald Miller was talking about.
One of the hallmarks of American culture is that we are self-reliant, self-sufficient, independent, and FREE. So, we each own a TV, a car, and pots and plates enough to throw a large party. But, in other cultures those things get shared. Someone buys a TV (and generator and enough gasoline to run it)…and everyone comes over to watch. When someone throws a party, all of the stuff needed is borrowed from neighbors, friends, family…
Recently, when I was talking with one of my Western friends about how our family doesn’t eat as many vegetables when we are in the mountains because “our garden isn’t totally producing, market is only once a week, and people don’t always bring stuff by, wah, wah, wah.”
My friend unintentionally reminded me how often I let self-sufficiency creep in, disguised as “not wanting to bother other people.” She simply said something to the affect of “need people a bit. Tell them if you are out of tomatoes or onions or would like some corn.”
The thing is, I don’t really like needing people, I like being independent, and on our own. It doesn’t FEEL good to receive, it feels good to give.
As Donald Miller says in “Blue Like Jazz”, community helps to show us the worst in ourselves, and forces us to choose a better way of living. My way of independence is not a better way, co-dependence (me needing you, you needing me) is a much better way. It keeps me from feeling that I’m “all-knowing, all-doing, best of all” with all the answers. Instead its, “you have answers too. Let’s work together to find them.”