Monday, 27 August 2012
The church will always have troubles. The letters of St. Paul were written to deal with specific problems in the different churches, most of them serious.
Jesus had probably more problems with the first 12 than is written in the Gospels. Our human nature is such that most of us from time to time will also be some kind of a problem for the communities that we belong to. Moral failures, in fighting, gossip and struggles for power, are common aspects of any community and the Christian congregations are no different.
It is also easier to see problems and failures in others than within ourselves, easy to point fingers and to destroy the reputations of others without remorse, without any understanding that what is being done is actually evil.
This should not be a source of discouragement, though it may cause suffering. It is part of our human condition. People have a past; often cruel and abusive, or lonely, or they come from families with lots of addictions.
In the Christian path these have to be grown through and it is often a slow process that could take a lifetime. That is why we are called upon to be compassionate with others and hopefully, others will be compassionate with us. Rigidity only leads to hypocrisy; causing problems and difficult issues to be buried and not dealt with -- so the problems deal with us when they finally erupt to the surface. When community members come to understand that they live in a compassionate community, forgiving and offering the love and mercy of Christ Jesus, then our churches and congregations will be healthier and true lights for the world.
To stick with any community is difficult. To stay with one that has love of God and the openness to grace as its central tenet, can make it that much more difficult because of the manifest failures of its members. For the higher the calling, the easier it is to fall. We are called to have compassion on those who perhaps at a certain stage of life can’t return it, yet they are our brothers and sisters on the way.
In the Christian path, Christ Jesus calls us to be ever more fully human, which means that we are not yet at that stage. As we mature in our walk with the Lord, the new life that he calls us to takes ever deeper root. Jesus was not driven by fears, anxious concerns and personal sins that kept him from facing life fully; not seeking to retreat into cynicism, contempt and anger. These are ploys that can be used to free us from understanding the struggles and sufferings of those around us and by doing so blocking us from the self knowledge that is needed on our path into ever deeper grace and love.What are some of the problems that Paul wrote to the early disciples about? How many of them still exist in community today? What can we learn from Paul's letters to the early church about the situations we find ourselves in today? What has been your experience with Christian community?