I watched a TV program for a season or three. If I recall correctly (I forget what I watch very quickly) a spy went ‘dark’ in the third season. It’s an interesting phrase. I tooled around and got a few definitions on what it means to go dark. It was described as a term used in ‘the intelligence world’ (ie. C.I.A.) where you go silent. You go off the grid or off the radar. You don’t speak or communicate with anyone for a given period of time. It’s a way to protect yourself from someone who could harm you. You become suddenly unavailable or digitally out of reach.
I would suggest that much of the Christian world goes ‘dark’ six days a week and then what they do on Sunday morning is shallow and superficial. Really I should use the word ‘we’ or ‘I’ because I can play the game just like everyone else. ‘Things are good…God is good…life is good…amen.’
Let’s apply the ‘go dark’ definition to the believer. You go silent…you are not heard from through the week. You may make some funny posts or quote some good quotes on Facebook or Twitter but you have not shared yourself. We are seeking to protect ourselves. Believers do that because when you expose what your heart is really like you can be sure that someone will smash it with a 2X4. So you play it safe and expose only what you want people to see…you show only what you think they want to see. Maybe you’re afraid you’ll be rebuked, and you might be. Maybe you and I are afraid that we won’t be listened to or that we’ll be harshly judged. You and I struggle and maybe we’re afraid that we’ll be ignore or we’ll hear something like ‘good luck with all that.’ We fear so we keep our masks firmly in place.
Acts 2:46 suggests that the early church got together every day. They shared. They sang. They prayed. They studied. The got body.
I am convinced and convicted that what I experience in my Christian life can be so enhanced and so much better through other believers. We grow up in community. I don’t know exactly what that looks like but I know it can be deeper. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 shows us that we need others in the body and that they need us. That’s the point in a nutshell. We need each other.
I continue to read on what the body in a local church is supposed to look like or can look like. I want to get a hard copy of the new book by Mark Dever called ‘The Compelling Community’ so I’ve put off downloading it. I have read Thabiti Anyabwile’s book on community. I’ve read Jerry Bridges on the same topic and I just downloaded a book by Joseph Hellerman for 99 cents called ‘When the Church Was A Family: Recapturing Jesus: Vision for Authentic Christian Community’. Apparently it was give away at a conference I was at a few years ago so chances are I have a hard copy boxed up with most of my books in storage. Anyway…
I want to share a couple of things I’ve read in the intro that I’m turning over. The author tells the story of a gal who loved to sing at their church. She had a passion for others to know God more deeply but she had some deep relational conflict in her past. Her marriage blew up and she lived with one of her sisters for about ten years…until her sister died unexpectedly and then some of the warts began to show. That happens when life gets hard but she had a church body that wanted to help.
They offered someone to council her with the loss of her sister. Someone else was prepared to offer her wise, biblical money managing wisdom (some of her poor financial decisions came to light after her siblings death). They had planned to help her but she said ‘thanks but no thanks.’ They don’t see her at church anymore.
We so need each other but many of us have bought into the independent ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ mentality. But the reality is that we are weak, weak, weak. We need Jesus and we need each other. Again, see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
The thought of having someone chose our spouse for us seems a little absurd. We choose a mate that we hope will make us happy…and truth be told spouses are there to make us holy, but that’s another post for another time. But when most of us choose a mate we think about what they will do for us. What they will do for one person…me. I’m not necessarily sure if that’s biblical thinking or cultural thinking.
There are some in different traditions where they walk the aisle to marry someone they rarely know. An Iranian woman, in the book I’ve been reading, was quite content to sacrifice her freedom to choose a mate for the good of her extended family. You read correctly, for the good of a group.
How many times do we make decisions with other people in mind…for their good and for God’s glory? There was a lady I knew for a number of years who always, and I mean always, showed up for a weekly meeting, fifteen minutes late….every time…every single solitary time. Did she consider the others that made the effort to be there on time, or early, every week?
One other thing I want to draw your attention to that the book mentions (and I’ve only read the intro). In all of Paul’s letters he mentions ‘my Lord’ once. Just one time. How many times do we hear about ‘my personal Saviour.’ But you’ll never guess how many time he says ‘our Lord’? Go higher. Go even higher. Try fifty-three times. Is that incredible? The majority of the New Testament was written to groups of believers.
I was talking to a bro about this very topic at a church barbecue over the weekend. He seemed to be wanting more in his Christian experience with other believers like I do. I don’t believe we’re the only ones. I believe deeper relationships can begin with simple questions like: ‘what is God teaching you these days’ or ‘what are you reading’? That might be the starting place.
I have referenced a blog that I read from time to time and the tag line is ‘God is deeper still.’ I think the tag line to this post could be ‘our Christian relationships can go deeper still.’ If you go into deeper territory with people you will get hurt…you will, but there are much deeper relationships to be experienced in the body or Christ that are so worth the hurt.