If I didn’t show up, would you notice? I go days, weeks, with out physical contact – little more than brushing against someone in an elevator. There is no one who really knows what I think – who I really am. If I were in need – sick, broke, depressed – there is no one nearby.
Babel, is a story of pride, folly, fractured relationships, and growing distance between peoples. It is a further phase of mankind turning away from God and while we don’t know the mechanism or manifestation of God’s activity the people once joined together are now scattered through the earth, fleeing from each other.
Fast forward to the days of Jesus, who, on the night before he died said to his followers, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…”
Jesus, the God man, gives himself to his followers and says that he is their friend. So a new circle of friendship emerges which unites men (and women) from radically different backgrounds and sends them out together to further broaden the circle. In the accounts that follow it is hard to miss the language of connection, togetherness, and commonality which emerge among an increasingly diverse set of people. Then as we shift from the narratives to the letters of the New Testament, the plural tenses take center stage. So much is written to the church, the locally gathered Christian community. We want to be a church where this new network of friendships is both the byproduct and means of God’s gracious work. Here are some practical implications:
-People in the church connect at least once over the course of the week outside of worship at church. It is really important for growth to pray, confess, and explore the bible together. There are things that we will not see about ourselves or about God without each other.
-People stick around through conflict and disappointment because Jesus unites us at such a deep level that there are resources to work through significant challenges. Each person is integral to the life of the whole body such that we’re not okay with losing some people as collateral damage. While people will come and go, there isn’t room for a liaise faire attitude. In a time when commitment is an alien concept for many, the church will be a contrast community where the God of faithfulness is seen through his people.
-If faith in Jesus is the real unifying point then friendships will form that cross socio-economic, racial and ethnic lines. People who have different backgrounds, see differently on significant issues, and have different cultural expectations for Christian behavior and belief will find themselves working through these complicated issues. Rather than expecting immediate understanding or demanding conformity to certain expectations we will learn about each other and from each other.