Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Ideal

I’ve had a lot of thoughts in my head lately about community, fellowship, and what the body of church is and should look like. A recent conversation started the all pondering (and yes Jen, I have even mused). During the talk I reflected on my experience as a youth in the Church, saying: "Everyone was too busy telling us the rules and trying to prove they were good little followers that too few would be real enough to show clay feet…we all need to see more followers of Christ without masks." And later "There are just too few examples of communities being love in action." My own harsh judgements* has left me struggling with more questions then I have answers for. The more I reflect on the subject the more the topic seems to grow. But I have been able boiled my thoughts down to the four questions. I hope to look at each question individually. My questions are:

1) What is the ideal community?
2) What are the flaws or things that hinder the ideal?
3) What would this community look like when considering the flaws and the messy world we live in?
4) How do we make this practical community a reality?

Currently my thought of what the church should be (or the ideal community) is: "People coming along beside each of other to walk in the mud and filth that comes of living in this very fallen, messy world and helping restore us as we live with the consequences of our choices"
How would you define the perfect/ideal Christian community?

*I realise that both statements are sweeping and stereotypical and not a 100% true for every church or Christian. Nor was my overall experience in the church as a teen negative; if it was I probably would not be where I am now.


ap said...

good questions. i have no answers! :)

one thing i see as a danger for me is becoming so focused on possible ideals and what i now consider ideal situations in the past (when they weren't), that i forget the hard work of just being the person i should be... i mean, with a triune God so interested in history, there is always community...and i'm part of it.

Steph said...

these questions have been going through my head as well, I'll give you my thoughts on my blog

matthew said...

I remember creating a perfect society for an assignment and bethany. Our group made the 'hip ship' and we only allowed people we liked to come aboard. But then we had it end in disaster b/c we don't think the ideal is possible in a fallen world.

That being said, good questions. I hope we keep asking them and pursuing the ideals we imagine.

Rachael said...

Liz, I just found out that you are in Japan at Grace School!! How neat is that?? Cool stuff. I want to go back evetually.

That guy you know said...

Ideal community is a neat concept but i think that defining the ideal community is something best left for more intelligent people then myself. However i would suggest that we can define a Christian community and that the best definition for such a community even in this fallen world would be the example given to us but the early followers in Acts. Another phrase for Christian community could possibly be selfless community since we are to follow the example Christ has given us. In this world however that requires not just people willing to share but people with a willingness to set aside their self(pride) and be more concerned about following Christ. i don't know just a thought

Missy said...

Wow, I've thought these same questions quite a bit too. Strangely, no matter how you answer them, the tend to raise their ugly heads again eventually to cause for confusion in your mind again.

Right now I think it great to contemplate an ideal community although that is super difficult because we are all fallen. No matter what we aspire for our community, there will be flaws. Can we create an ideal society with room made for this fact too? I"m not sure. Would it really be ideal? Probably not.

Just more random thoughts. Keep thinking Liz, I love you!

Anna said...

I have to admit, the concept of an ideal community scares me a bit, after having read books about "utopian societies" in high school. Ideal sounds good on paper, but never seems to follow through. I think the best you can do, as a Christian, is to do your best to stay close to Christ.

Garwik said...

Thinking up an ideal community is the easy part.
Getting everybody to agree with you on the other hand...

Steph said...

so long as we think of it as an ideal and not a possibility, you're right, it will never happen. But even if we can't convice everyone to live lives like Jesus did, can't we all decide to do it? Wouldn't that help just a little?

elizabeth said...

Rachel, genki desu ka? Thanks for stopping by. Many of my students and people that I met remember you and ask me how you are doing and where you are now.

Anna, I agree that the ideal community is scary when thinking of a “utopian society”. I am not searching for a Brave New World. Not even a society in which every citizen is a devote Christian. Jeff’s right, that type of “community” will never work because no one will ever agree. Those who disagree will rebel against the “standard”. Legislated morality and holiness never works…as Matthew’s project showed, the Hip Ship is leaking. The ship is going down.

I am in search of what the church should look like. I said community because most of us have come to think of the church as a building or denomination and not as those who follow Jesus. Maybe an ideal can not be defined because of the brokenness of our world. Or perhaps what I am truly seeking are the principles Christians should live by when together.

Rachael said...


Watashi wa Genki Desu. Arigato.

You can tell my old students that I am GREAT! I have to admit though, I miss Japan. I wish I were as bold as you and I could go back "alone"...but I'm not sure I could, lol (i'm such a pansie). However, I am thinking about gong back to the Osaka area to teach, and this time focus more on ministry..but we'll see what God has in store...it may not be what He wants for me.