By Jimmy McCarty
Id had enough. Everything was going downhill and wasnt going to get resolved in the immediate scenario. Everything about these people was getting on my last nerve. I dont really know why, it wasnt really a big deal looking back on it now, but in that moment, there was nothing of higher priority to me than removing myself from the situation. I just had to get away.
The truth is, I had a choice to make. The easy answer was to just emotionally walk away. If they were going to be that selfish, I would continue to be part of the group, but they werent going to get much out of me. It wasnt me; it wasnt them. It was just the way things were going to have to be to make this work. Im fine flying solo. No drama, no issues, no miscommunication, just me living my life alongside these other people that can do whatever they want. I dont hate them, but I dont have to like them.
Or do I?
I heard a speaker one time say what a downer it was to hear that God loved me. I mean, God is love; he has to love me. Hes God! But everything changes when you consider the thought: God likes me. Bearing affection for another is a choice I make, because I desire it not because I am obligated to offer it. While our finite minds comprehend this difference, God does not. The agape love of Almighty God carries an unconditional quality that changes everything.
Unconditional love comes at far greater price than just a choice you make upon introduction to another. It is a commitment you make, a risk you take, a conviction you carry that might cause you pain. Unconditional love is not about hearts, flowers and warm fuzzies. It is love in the moment of pain, the moment of conflict, the moment of crisis. When all is stripped away, when the demon is exposed, do you still love?
The masquerade we participate in upon first entering community is impossible to maintain even for the most resolute of heart. Sooner or later, the monster is unleashed, exposing the demons within. Community is not about ignoring, hiding or suppressing the demons within; it is about what you are going to do when they are seen in all their glory.
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” (Matt. 5:44a) We do not engage in community for the superficiality of a prestigious social circle. We engage in community, because it is the best way. The Godhead itself exists in community (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and sets a unspoiled example for all of creation.
The choice I have to make is whether or not I am willing to live in community unconditionally. Sometimes, it means letting people go, but it never means leaving them outside the safe reach of the group. Community is a sacrifice to self. It is a willingness to enter into anothers pain or into anothers joy with no judgment to either.
If you are waiting for a community void of conflict, hurt, or crisis, I hate to break it to you, but you will never find it. Even if you could fabricate such a scenario, such an environment would rob the members of the group of the opportunity to discover the beauty of an unconditionally-loving community. It is those too selfish, too lazy or too frightened of what unconditional community implies who shy away from the dirty, beautiful reality that is community living.
The truth is, you have a choice to make.
Jimmy McCarty received a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida and a Master’s in Theological Studies from Bethel Theological Seminary. He is a native Floridian and is currently involved in overseas missions. He is an avid student of leadership and missions and hopes to incorporate both into his future.