Melissa Benson grew up in the community at Central/North Pointe. Melissa served our church in outreach ministries to children and youth in downtown Edmonton. She was employed as a youth pastor in Ottawa, Ontario and has volunteered in Haiti and most recently in Malawi serving orphans.
She writes at Rebel Against Apostrophes.
When its been a long time since I’ve spoken to a friend, I tend to forget just how good of a friend they are.
One day, when we finally DO reconnect, I wonder why I ever allowed the time and the distance to keep us apart.
We all need community.
I truly believe we were created for relationship and to be amongst people.
Maybe not all the time around people, but to live along side others and not keep them at arms length.
When I think of community, I don’t limit it to a physical location.
Community to me is a network of people that live life alongside one another; geography aside.
My parents have an incredible network of people in their church in Edmonton (North Pointe), in which I was raised.
A privilege if you ask me, because its now a third-generation community.
Its a major part of who I am, because I was brought up alongside so many other families.
“It takes a village to raise a child,” has a lot of merit for me.
However, this sort of community is not perfect.
In fact, I have come to believe, that it actually finds strength in its imperfection.
THE PROCESS OF PERFECTING
Its through the struggle to escape the cocoon that a butterfly completes its transformation.
And so, I have begun to thank God for the fact that imperfect community is all part of the process to bring perfection in me.
Though we cannot attain perfection this side of heaven, the Bible is clear that we are being refined – through our surrender to God and our fellowship with others – so that we may reflect the beauty of Christ all the more clearly.
Silver is refined over fire until it is clear enough to reflect the face of the Refiner.
Now, doesn’t this sound so romantic and ideal?
I mean, I love the idea and concept of community.
I love the idealism we can spout from our lips when we talk about what we want our community to look like.
But you know what?
The image we have in our mind of living in community usually appeals only to the one who is dreaming, because we fashion community to our liking.
COMMUNITY IN OUR OWN IMAGE
We plan out direction and goals based on what we would want ourselves.
The greater good is often secondary to my perceived good.
When community life infringes on what makes me comfortable, I start to find reason to withdraw.
I make excuses why I can’t show up to group events or to attend church consistently.
I start to pull away from the whole and focus maybe only on the few people I actually get along well with.
I allow myself to invest my life in theirs, because its safe and its comfortable.
All the while, I am a poorly developed butterfly, wondering why I can’t fly.
I’ve begun a journey to rediscover the fight through the cocoon.
A FRIEND NAMED JESUS
When I mentioned at the beginning about the friend that I hadn’t done a good job keeping in touch with, I was referring to Jesus.
I’ve actually done a fantastic job of keeping Him on the fringe of my life over the last few years and justified the behavior with petty excuses.
There’s been something significantly different happening in my life as a result of my determination to stick with community: I’ve rediscovered my best friend, Jesus, and I can already see things shifting in my day to day life.
There’s a hope dawning.
And now, I find myself back in the swing of who I know I am: someone who longs to bless; who looks for the chance to offer herself to others.
And the best part is, I’m loving who I am being refined as.
APPLICATION: Do you have insights on community? Please leave a comment for Melissa below.
Subscribe to “Pointes of View” by signing up here.