mjkimpan  —  June 25, 2012 — 26 Comments

over the past three years particularly, i have become increasingly convinced of not only the benefit, but of the necessity of doing life together, in community with others.

but choose your community wisely.

 our inclination is to make up the majority our relationships – our friends, our faith community, our working environment – of people who think similarly to us.  we tend to reinforce our prejudices and solidify our dogma, often times becoming increasingly intolerable of those who would dare to challenge our presuppositions to the world.

we often abstain from those who think differently – cautious of those who think more liberally and impatient with those those who think more conservatively. when we surround ourselves with like minded people, we further entrench ourselves in the fox holes of our own dogma. seeking validation and justification of already held positions and opinions, we are rarely stretched and challenged in our mental and spiritual status quo.

yet there is a difference between thinking similarly and sharing common values.

our communities ought to share common values.  our friends and faith community serve as a ‘home base’ for thought and conversation.  we are not created for isolation.

for instance – to me, the primary purpose of the good news of God for all people is reconciliation (i’ve written more on this here).  as i seek to follow in the way of jesus, the most important value i have is loving God and loving people to that end.  i have strong opinions on how best to do that.  yet there are many others i’ve invited into my life who, though they share the value of loving God and loving people for the purpose of reconciliation, disagree with me on how best to show love and go about the
business of reconciliation.

we think differently, yet we share common values.

it is in the conversations with those that disagree with me i find myself growing most.  i learn from the shared wisdom of men and women who have more life and ministry experience than i.  i am softened from the caution of my more conservative friends and learn better how to walk alongside people in process.  i am motivated by the desire for movement from my more liberal brothers and sisters and learn more of what it means to put my faith into action.  each of these voices have earned the right to speak into my life, and we all share common values.  this is my ‘home base’.  if it were  not for me surrounding myself with people from different perspectives, i fear i would be steeped in my own positions and become stagnant…or perhaps more likely, reckless.

there are those who speak out of ignorance, who mock and scorn those who think differently than them.  but there are also those who are seeking the face of God, who desire to be conformed to the image of christ and who want to walk alongside those with common values, regardless of their different perspectives.  seek out those people, and walk with them.  invite them into your community.  learn from them.  do life with them.  and perhaps most importantly, i’m learning, listen to them.

it just might make you both look a little more like jesus.