Thoughts from Beer and a Bible (Community)
Tuesday night’s Beer and a Bible was another night of great conversation and great beer. In case you missed my first post, Beer and a Bible is a group for people who want to openly discuss life, faith and the bible while enjoying a good brew. It’s a group full of spiritually diverse people who are open and interested in having spiritual conversations in a different setting.
It’s always incredible how a randomly chosen topic speaks to people when you least expect it. Tuesday night’s topic was another instance of that.
The passage up for discussion came from Mark 2:1-12 (click on the link for the passage), which is where 4 men dug a hole through the roof of a house where Jesus was teaching to lower a paralyzed man in to get him close to Jesus. They had to go through the roof because the crowd was so large that there was no way they were going to get close to him, much less while carrying a paralyzed man.
There are all kinds of topics that come from this short story, some I could spend many hours talking about, but during our conversations the other night one in particular really stood out to me. It was the 4 men carrying this paralyzed man that really spoke to me for some reason.
I’m a big fan of community. I fully believe that we all are communal creatures by nature and that the need and desire for some sort of community and relationship are within all of us. That’s why my wife and I have lived in community, with roommates and other families, over the past 4 years. Over half of our marriage has been spent living with others because we believe community is so vital to who we are.
What I see with this paralyzed man is that he has surrounded himself with a community. Maybe these 4 guys are the only community he has, but they serve as a community that cares enough about him to carry him up on a roof, tear a hole through said roof, then lower him down through that hole. All without a crane or modern-day technology.
The question that ran through my mind over and over during our discussions and has continued to do so since I left is, “What kind of community do you surround yourself with?”
It’s a question that we all must ask ourselves at some point. This guy had some pretty serious needs, physically and spiritual, as shown by Jesus addressing his spiritual needs first, but he surrounded himself with a community that was helping point him and carry him in the direction he needed to go.
I imagine that being healed was high on his priority list. It was something that I’m sure he dreamed about and thought about a lot. So much so that the community he surrounded himself with, these 4 guys, knew how much it meant to him. They knew what direction he wanted to go with this life. They knew his priorities. And when they saw an opportunity for their friend to take a huge step in the right direction of achieving that goal, that dream, all of a sudden his priorities became their priorities. They were obviously strong enough to pull this guy up on a roof and tear a hole through it. Being healed probably wasn’t something they thought about much, but they knew their friend. They knew what his dreams were. They were willing to drop what they were doing to bring their friend to the only one who could really help him.
That’s the kind of community I not only want to be in, but want to be for others. I want to know that I have people around me who I am close enough with that I can share my dreams, my goals and my passions and who I know would drop anything they were doing in order to help me achieve those. I want people to know me as a person who cares deeply for them. I want them to know me as someone who will help shoulder their burdens and who will help them accomplish their goals, dreams and passions.
That requires vulnerability, honesty, and a whole bunch of other virtues that usually don’t come natural to us, but it’s really the only way to live. It allows us to share each other’s burdens. To celebrate each other’s wins.
That’s what community should look like. Equally beneficial relationships. People who care enough for each other that they are willing to do seemingly crazy things for each other in order to help each other when it matters most.
And don’t get me wrong…sometimes it can feel very one sided. Can you imagine how one sided the relationship with this paralyzed man felt? For what could have been years these 4 guys carried him around, helping him with the day to day of life, maybe even carried him on other roofs in hopes of healing. Sometimes we have to sacrifice for others, but that’s part of being committed to a community.
I encourage you to ask yourself that question. What kind of community do you surround yourself with? Is it a mutually beneficial community? Is it one that is going to help you accomplish your goals and dreams in life, as well as where you can help others accomplish their goals and dreams?
Have you ever experienced community like that?
What does community mean to you?