What is community? It's something that unfortunately, the church has often fallen short of, sometimes dramatically. It seems that there has been a misconception that since we're all in the same room and we all believe in Jesus that we are suddenly in relationship. Not so. The fact that we both like ice cream, laugh at the same jokes or enjoy the same activities doesn't place us in community. These things are common interest. They can certainly start a relationship, but it will remain a shallow one if our level of interaction remains there.
It's not even shared purpose or ideals...
If it was, then many churches would at least be nailing it on this one. For many years I had relationships that I thought were amazing, only to learn that when the purpose we shared was gone or one of us changed our mind... there went the glue that bound us together.
We were created for close intimate relationship from the beginning, for intimacy with God and others.
What is intimacy? By intimacy, I don't mean sex, although sexual intimacy is the greatest level of intimacy possible. (Which is why it's so powerful... and has so much destructive potential when used outside of it's design.)
Intimacy is deep connection with another person without shame or judgment.
To achieve intimacy you have to be authentic. There can be no bond to a false version of someone. This is why the identity crisis in our culture is such an important issue. Unless we know who we really are we will be forever robbed of intimacy, which is what our souls need more than anything. It's only in authentic knowing that the greatest longing of our soul is fulfilled, to be known and fully loved.
Before we can even get to intimacy we have to start with safety. A safe place is one where pretense is banned and there is only love, without the fear of punishment or shame. It's in the safe place that vulnerability can be risked. Our willingness to be vulnerable and authentic come along with mutual trust that the other won't betray the bond of safety that you have both agreed to. It's through our exchange and sharing who we really are that we establish community.
Safety-> Vulnerability -> Knowing -> Intimacy-> Committed Community
Community is a risky thing. It requires truth, courage and vulnerability. Allowing others to see who we really are, imperfect and all. We risk pain and rejection, all for the sake of sharing the greatest love. There is no other way. It's through risk that we find fulfillment. Humanity is not for the faint of heart. Good thing we were all born with what it takes to get this right. Jesus was our forerunner. He gave everything with knowledge of the risk that we could reject relationship with him. This is why we don't need any sort of pretense with God. This is why we can come to Him as we are. It's in the place of the real that true connection can take place. In fact, it's only in that place. We have a necessity to need another and exchange freely without fear.