Over the last few weeks I’ve shared with you a series on the spiritual discipline of community.  These are excerpts from an unpublished book I’ve written entitled Room To Move.  The first two posts in this series are:

Community 3.0 and Community 3.1

To read more excerpts from Room To Move, you can choose the Room To Move category in the side bar.

Community “Stinks”

One of my favorite examples of community came from some of our ministry friends, Katrina and Shane. I sat in stitches on the phone with my friend, Katrina, as she shared with me about an experience she and her husband had the night before.

Katrina and her husband were invited to dinner by a couple they went to church with. The best description I can give you of this couple is “odd”. They’re just different. I know; everyone is different. However, there are just some that are, especially, strange.

Katrina wasn’t particularly looking forward to the dinner, but she knew that it was the right thing to do. So, Katrina and her husband, Shane, went. When they arrived, they found that the wife had spent two days preparing a new recipe for them to try! As if it weren’t risky enough to try a new recipe on guests, the dish was international. I’m not talking Mexican or Italian, I’m talking ‘Third-world-country’-international. Katrina and Shane were polite as they sat down to dinner with their hosts.

I had to interrupt Katrina as she shared her story. “Well, how was the food?”, I asked. Katrina carefully chose her words as she continued, “Well, it wasn’t delicious. Actually, it wasn’t even good. It was edible.”

I covered my mouth as I tried to stifle a laugh.

Katrina continued. The two couples had nice conversation and the husband repeatedly reminded Katrina and Shane to save room for dessert. About halfway through dinner the peculiar husband got up and left the table. He was gone for an extraordinarily long time. By the time he came back, Katrina realized that her stomach was not agreeing with the meal. She became increasingly aware that she would have to excuse herself to the restroom. She secretly hoped there was more than one restroom in the couple’s small home, but unfortunately there was only one. As she found her way to restroom, she knew immediately why the husband had been gone for so long. The international cuisine had apparently not agreed with him either.

I had to stop her again. I was doubled over beginning to cry, I was laughing so hard. I needed a moment to gather myself.

After taking her turn in the  restroom, Katrina returned to the party feeling a bit better. They ate dessert and the two couples moved to the living room. They talked and laughed and shared stories about their lives, their adventures and their marriages.

These four individuals were different and usually wouldn’t gather socially, but something was happening. They began to bond and learn more about each other. Shane and Katrina heard stories of mission trips, funny marital quirks and somewhere in the middle of the evening, discovered a unique friendship. By the time they were ready to leave, Shane’s stomach, too, was beginning to rumble. Katrina and Shane left that evening with unsettled stomachs, but satisfied souls. They had dreaded the dinner and the company, but ended up enjoying the delightfully strange camaraderie.

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I stopped. I wasn’t laughing anymore because I saw it–I saw community.

God’s Show-and-Tell displaying the very things He enjoys and cares about. The odd couple may not have fit socially, but they gave unselfishly. They went the extra mile to honor their guests and, though, the guests digestive systems didn’t agree with the menu, their souls were fed. I saw a couple– my friends–sacrifice their time to minister to what some might consider the weaker parts of the body. They allowed the Holy Spirit room to move.

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Christian community is gritty and messy and sometimes hard on your digestive system! When people who have nothing in common walk and talk alongside each other until some of their sharp edges are rounded off, something beautiful takes place.

Acts 16 gives us a similar scenario (minus the international cuisine!) as the Church of Philippi had its start with a fashionista, former demon-possessed slave girl and a jailer. Talk about gritty. We see the powerful result of the discipline of community fleshed out as the Holy Spirit moves in the hearts’ of His people.  The Spirit joins unlikely parts and makes them into a whole.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. –1Corinthians 12:12

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