Family is Usually the Answer to Community

Today we are talking about family and community and the collision that happens with that. Like Jeremy put in the notes community is all the rage, and I agree because it’s funny that the one thing we are looking for deeper and more fiercely than ever right now in our culture, specifically in the West, is a deep connectedness, is to be known, and to be loved, and to be pursued, and to be understood. The interesting thing is so many of us are trying to purposely do that outside of the family. Either we have left the family already in some sense, disconnected, unhitched from the family or we have that family, but we think that that’s not actually one of God’s answers and designs for that.

And I find that really interesting. Specifically in metropolitan areas, cities. I’m thinking of Portland, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, et cetera. You see tons of young, single professional type people disconnected from their family but on an enormous pursuit of connectedness. And of course we need both. You don’t just hang out with just your family, but I think a lot of us are kind of the answers hidden in plain sight in the sense of the true nature of community is to be and the true need that is trying to fulfill is to be deeply loved and known at the same time. That’s the heart of God. That we are deeply known and deeply loved by God and by each other. And that’s kind of what it means to be human and to be an image bearer living in his design.

Now who can more deeply love you or who can more deeply know you then your family who has grown up with you, seeing you through crazy stages, various stages. Because I think a lot of us, we actually tend to like move once it gets hard. Even with our friends and we bounce around and all these different things. So I just have to find that interesting of like I want to challenge anyone listening of, hey, are you looking for community? Because all of us are right now. It’s kind of trendy, it’s kind of hip. What would it look like if you actually kind of tried to get some of that need fulfilled in family, whether that’s getting closer to a parent, whether that’s getting closer to a sibling, pursuing relationships there, but Jeremy, what would you say to that?

Yeah, in the church, this is I think a really confusing conversation. There’s a verse in the Bible that I love, Psalm 68 verse six it says, “God puts the solitary in families.” And I think if we were to rewrite that today, we’d say God puts the solitary in small groups. In other words, we’re constantly prescribing community or small groups and those things are good and we should be a part of those things. We need community, we need relationships, but it’s difficult for us to tell right now how much of this problem is being created because of the destruction of the family. Because that is not really cementing our relationships properly, and we’re not experiencing deep community in our own families and particularly multi-generationally. If you had a deep relationship with your parents, deep relationship with your siblings, deep relationship with your spouse, with your kids, and then you are extending that onto more and more people. How lonely would we be?

Robert Putnam wrote that famous book, the Harvard professor that was called Bowling Alone. It was really the soul study about how as a culture we are just becoming more lonely. We do not know how to connect. And again, as you go to churches, you’ll hear the buzzword community everywhere. I mean it’ll be like community groups in every way of building community. And again, this is not to demeanor any of those efforts because that’s really important. But what I almost never hear is the church go ahead and say, “Hey, maybe the root of this at some level is the destruction of the family.” Instead we almost immediately… There’s an opportunity sometimes for the church to sort of fill that gap through small groups and through community. But it’s really important to also acknowledge, “Hey, something is really broken with our whole social structure.” And I think it really starts at the family level.

So when you think about your role as a father, one of your roles is to found a community that is based in and through your home and in and through your family, and that you are really trying to push back this feeling of loneliness and disconnection by creating that community and extending it to others. That is how we can really re-establish community in a way that is actually centered on what God’s solution to loneliness was in Psalm 68, which was the family.

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