"The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and His work become the one and only vital thing that is vital.
We have one another only though Christ, but through Him, we do have one another,
wholly, and for all eternity". Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Life Together.
It can be hard to really talk about 'us' in a world where what so often seems to count is 'me'.
We're encouraged, it seems, at pretty much every turn, to focus upon our needs, desires, ambitions and comfort, and the manner of this push is to assume that everything else is subordinate to this, so it's not surprising this 'naturally' becomes our de-fault position.
It's fascinating, then, to consider that if we live in a world that is there to furnish us, how it really fails to do so. We may crave time to sit and just be, but we are surrounded by a realm almost entirely devoid of calm and solitude. Privacy is usually a brief experience for most of us. We may long to be "us", but we are never very alone (even if we may feel it) - the world and especially other people are always there.
I have lots of things I enjoy because they resonate with or reflect some aspect of "me", but if I'm honest, some of the richest moments of my life have been when I've been sharing something valuable with others - it's that wonder of kinship, of mutual delight in what counts, that really adorns a moment with value.
What is true in general is even more the case with regards to Christianity.
"Membership", which equates to participation in Christian fellowship, isn't about some trite external conformity to a set of principals or ethics (though you'd be forgiven for thinking it was, sadly, in many cases), but a vibrant connection to a 'body' of people as diverse and as distinct as you can imagine, different yet complimentary to each other, each having very distinct roles to play as part of a whole. The image here is of a family, where the bond is deep and meaningful, but the relationships, as those between a son and an uncle, or grandmother, or cousin, will all be unique.
We begin to truly find ourselves in others.
When we use our gifts, our resources, not to merely sustain us, but to truly 'feed' one another, then we find a new value in what we do and in who we are, and it is in such giving we can become members of one another.
It is here we are given a foretaste of what lies ahead - true personality.
By becoming like the one who gave all to redeem and to reconcile, we will encounter and be enfolded by the life which will occupy our beings with true character.
It is not often that easy to give ourselves in a fashion that counts, but if we look to the one who showed us His Lordship in the way He served His disciples just hours before a cruel death, then we can begin to really know what life is meant to be about - joy which endures only comes through such reality.
We all tend to either shy away from this form of communion, or dress it as something less demanding, less challenging, but it's worth the cost - the gems discovered when we work for them are so much better than the 'wood, hey and stubble' of what commonly passes for value. May such a prize be our goal.