Things have settled down. We’re back to normal.
I can’t tell if that’s good or bad.
Of course, I’m glad we have power. I’m grateful for water I don’t have to boil. I’m glad I don’t have to wait all day to get gas in my car.
But, during the hurricane, I saw people come together in a way I’ve not seen. Neighbors began to neighbor. People shared what they had. People learned each others’ names. I finally met some people who live near me who I’ve been trying to meet for over a year now.
As the storm approached, it felt like we went from a collection of persons to a community of people.
But, just like a hurricane, eventually the storm – once collected and powerful – fragments and divides into a multitude of separate storms.
After we weathered this storm together, we went right back to our corners.
Fights were picked
Lines were drawn.
Knees were taken.
Shots were fired.
Conversation stopped, arguments started.
One step forward and like 100 steps back.
Turns out a category 5 hurricane wasn’t the biggest storm we’d see this year.
There’s a commonality, regardless of political views, racial heritage, economic position, and even religious backgrounds. It’s the fact that we are all humans. We are all experiencing this life at this time together.
It just seems that the challenge of commonality is too much for us.
Like we just can’t do it.
We live in a world where we’ve become such individuals that we’ve forgotten what community is.
Remember when you didn’t have a phone of your own?
Remember party lines? I actually don’t, but there was a day where your entire neighborhood would be in one big phone loop. The community had to share one mode of communication.
Then, each house got a phone which connected their household to other households. You could talk on the phone, but your family in your house could pick up the phone and listen in (intentionally or accidentally). Remember the really cool people who had two lines in their house! What a time to be alive!
Then we got bag phones, the first phones you’d plug into your cigarette lighter and they’d work from the top of the tallest hill in your city. I’ll never forget the first time I used a bag phone to call from a car into my house. I’m sure that call cost $20/minute. But, man it was awesome.
But, then we started to get cell phones. Now, each person in our own families has their own phone. We don’t have to share, the phone, the information, even the conversations we’re having with anyone else.
Even my wife doesn’t have the right thumbprint to unlock my phone.
My communication, my content, my conversations are as unique as my fingerprint.
These devices that were supposed to connect us have taken our ability to find commonality.
We can only talk to the people we want. We can only relate to people who we like or who are like us.
In the Book of Acts, we see the initial forming of the Gathering which Jesus established. Jesus was – and is – the head of this Gathering. This was a group of people of differing political views, racial heritage, economic position, and even religious backgrounds. But, here’s how it’s described,
All the believers were together and had everything in common. (Acts 2:44)
(common in Greek is “koine”)
These were all people who believed in Jesus. I do believe that’s a game-changer, but I don’t believe this means that because of that they literally had everything in common (in greek that’s koine). Like they all rooted for the same football teams
or that they all preferred Coke over Pepsi.
or would’ve all enjoyed the new direction of Taylor Swift’s music.
This wasn’t about uniformity. This was about unity.
This means that they found commonality, not on every matter, but on what matters.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
First, they devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles. There were over 100 people who would’ve been considered apostles at this moment and the apostles would have been learning from each other as well. And how do you learn? You listen.
Listening is not just waiting for your turn to talk. (Still something I’m learning every day.)
They listened to one another.
Then, they devoted themselves to each other. To fellowship. To being together. (Fellowship in Greek is “koinonia”, same root as “common”)
Many of us devote ourselves to our own interests, our own desires, our own lives. We don’t devote ourselves to our others. We only go with those who go with us. We don’t allow the friction of others to enter our lives.
There’s an old saying. Those that devote themselves to themselves will have nothing but themselves to show for themselves. (You may have to reread that.)
And they ate together and prayed together. They did life together.
I watched a video the other evening after Hurricane Harvey. There was an older man in a car stranded in deep water. The man couldn’t by himself get out of his car and back to safety. But, suddenly a group of people began to link arms – one after another – stretching their line closer and closer to the man. When nearly 50 people had linked arms, the person at the end reached the man. He pulled the man out of his car and into his arms, then began to pass the man down the line. Person to person to person to person the man climbed back to safety.
In that moment, nobody was divided. No one was asking who voted for who, which nationality they were, how much money they had, nor what they believed.
They just banded together. Person to person to person to person they saved a man.
If we are ever going to restore this world, this community, even ourselves it will only happen in the context of community.
I hope that the community which was forged during the storm will be a community that can overcome our current storm as well.
KEVIN STAMPER | LEAD PASTOR | @KEVINSTAMPER