Photo Credit: USA Today
In the past few months, weeks and especially the past few days we’ve seen our news media, Facebook and Twitter timelines flooded with one major story, Ferguson.
No this won’t be an opinion piece about wrong or right decisions. I’m not even going to share what I think was done right or what was done wrong.
The reality is that right now, we have opposing sides who see things very differently and understandably so.
Racism and injustice has long plagued our nation. The glorification of violence and crime against others has also plagued our nation. Look through the history books. Look at TV shows and film.
So what do we do? Live in silos and keep “them” over there, while “we” stay over here? Absolutely not. That’s what has caused what we are living through and experiencing now.
I was watching a news report about Ferguson that showed two images. The first was a police officer getting his head chewed off (figuratively speaking) by two individuals in an extremely intense moment. The second image was that of these same individuals with the police officer embracing in an extremely touching moment.
What happened? What made the difference?
May I offer this suggestion?
It’s something we talk about a lot at Freedom. It’s actually one of our four core values, the others being the Gospel, Discipleship and Legacy.
What do we mean when we say “we value intentional community.”
Intentional community for us is founded on coming to a simple conclusion: That which connects us, is much stronger and richer than which divides us.
From the beginning of time we learn that man was once intimately connected with his Creator. But disobedience lead to the first separation (Genesis 3:6, 8-9). Then pride and envy (Genesis 4:6-8). Then greed (Genesis 13:10). Then racism (Exodus 1:9-10). Then religion (Matthew 9:10-11). Amongst other things.
Yet one Man, was able to break through all of these boundary lines to restore unity between man and his Creator and between man and his fellow brother/sister.
Yes, that was Jesus.
He broke through the ultimate separation, time and space to enter into our messed up, degenerate world. He didn’t find it condescending to come down to our level. He didn’t find it burdensome to meet us where we are. But rather, it was His passion to come and restore this lost unity (John 3:16, Philippians 2:6-8).
What makes it even more amazing is that we were the ones who were wrong (Romans 5:6, 8). Yet He pursued restoration and gave it to us as a gift (Ephesians 2:8). That is good news. That is the Gospel.
Remember the two images I mentioned above? One picture intense with anger. The next picture intense with understanding. The reason is, both parties decided to put their differences aside and get to know each other. They decided to engage in intentional community.
David Anderson, shares this African proverb in his book Gracism: The Art of Inclusion:
When I saw him from afar, I thought he was a monster.
When he got, closer I thought he was just an animal.
When he got closer, I recognized that he was a human.
When we were face to face, I realized that he was my brother.
Sometimes our boundaries are racial. Sometimes cultural. Sometimes political. Sometimes economical. But in order to break through each barrier, it always has to be intentional.
Jesus intentionally pursued you and me because He valued us. Now He sends us to intentionally pursue others regardless of race, culture, economics, political standing or position on the Ferguson case (Matthew 28:19-20).
How do you do this practically?
You change your table of community.
You intentionally reach out across the divide. You begin to engage intentionally with individuals who don’t look like you, live like you, or know what you know. You learn their struggles, their hopes and their dreams. You become a friend. Then you will become family.
That’s what we are doing at Freedom.
We are intentionally fostering a community where individuals are encouraged and able to engage in intentional community.
A community where we realize that what connects us is much stronger and richer than what divides us.
We are broken, undeserving, sinful people, who are being loved and pursued by a perfect, sinless, all deserving Savior. Through Jesus we find restoration not only with God but with each other so we can love across boundaries (Galatians 3:27-28) and make a unified, tangible difference in our community, region and world (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:14-16).
Here are some great resources by David Anderson as you begin to see how to engage in intentional community: Gracism: The Art of Inclusion & Letters Across the Divide
Learn more about changing your table of community in this great video for someone who is living this: