Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Belonging and Community

Recent events brought back memories a few years ago.  These memories are painful reminders. They are key points on my definition of a Christian community (or the Church).

This memory is similar to the post, Fall Short.

I can still remember those times in Junior High and Highschool when I do dumb things to feel like I belong.  I remembered in Grade 9 I stole somoene's calculator and gave it to a friend because he wanted it. 

To be accepted.  To have friends appreciate you for who you are.  It is a good thing.  You feel secure.  You don't feel the world is out to get you.  Life is very different when you have no one to trust or rely on.  Instead of joy, life becomes a bully that push you around from one day to the next.

Another gentleman, Frank, came into the Young Career Fellowship when I was leading.  He was a bit off.  Despite that, we tried and welcomed him.  Frank was particular. He rarely talk.  The type that hang out in the background.

After every fellowship event, he would often ask if people wanted to go to Bubble Tea.

A while later, Frank decided to accept Christ.  We go through the basics with him.  Who Jesus is, why we believe in what we believe as Christians, interviewed by the elders.  Frank was a smoker.  He was told that during the interview that after accepting Christ, he had to give up that habit.  He agreed.

I still remembered the day he got baptist.  As with every baptism, there was joy and happiness.

A few weeks later, Frank started to act a bit strange.  It was more difficult speaking to him.  He would be with you in person but his mind seemed to be wandering off.  He started to smoke again.  An elder told me to talk to him.  So I did.

By my immaturity, I condemned to stop because it was bad for him to represent Christ in this manner.  After either of us raised our voice, he reluctantly agreed.


Things continued to deteriorate.  Frank also seemed to have some mental issues.  Sometimes talking to him is like he wasn't there.  His mind alway wandered off.

He would only show up after prayer meeting or fellowship and just wanted to hang out.  By now I was tired. And no one wanted to either.  Frank slowly came to church and fellowship less and less.

I still remember those times when I tried to ask other brothers and sisters to hang out with him.  Perhaps I am not good at being a leader.  But it is so hard to tell people, hey can you be this person's friend?  Maybe because Frank's particular personality.   Or my assumption that no one thinks is worth the time to contribute.  Frank was quite generous in his ways. He would offer his home for us to go watch movie.


With the busy-ness of life.  With programs and church events.  I spent less time with Frank.  He attended my church less.  I don't even know when was the last time I saw him in person.

Last week, a brother was sharing how someone he knew might have a personality disorder.  I immediately remembered Andrew.  It is amazing how memories forgotten can bring back like an open wound. Had I know then what I experience now, holding back tears, I told my friend if I had to do it all over again, I would give all my money to Andrew.  Every dollar.

This afternoon  I was chatting with another brother about church and conversion.  Frank popped up in my head.

This is what I said...

me: i still remember frank
he got baptize
then he just disappeared
i think he got baptize b/c he wanted to be accepted.

Friend: aww man =(

me: if you think that's sad?
  I don't know if it is even more sad
  the fact that he didn't feel connected
  as a community should 
   ...a community that welcome the lost
   the whole point is not to convert them
   ok u are saved and move on
  to be a Christian as far as i can tell
 it is to follow Christ and reflect through our Christian commutniy aka church.

I still think after all these years, Frank came to church because he wanted to feel like he belong.

And this pains me because that's precisely what Jesus came to do. He came to restore those who are on the out back to Him.  That's why the blind, the sick, the poor, the leper, the tax collector, the sinners...all those that are socially excluded flocked to Him.  And He welcomed them.

I don't think Frank asked for much.  Sometimes a simple friendship can mean so much more.   And it probably cost the most.   Especially in a lifestyle of running around, got things to do, plans to make, and endless errands.  AKA My life is too busy for Frank.  And there is always that tendency to say, 'well that's Frank's problem. It ain't mine.  I have my own problem to deal with.'


What about Acts 2 Church when the brothers and sisters take care of each other? Or in Philippians when Paul wrote to look after each other interest? Or in First Corinthians when Paul wrote that if one member suffers, the rest suffers as well? Or James condemning those who pray and should physically take care of his brothers as well?

We should always remember that being a Christian ain't just a game to tell people the right answer to the four spiritual question as fast as possible. It ain't all about making sure that if someone die they end up in heaven.

Having the right answers is important.  Without the love of grace from above showing in physical ways.  The right answers just feel hollow.

Jesus preached that the Kingdom of Heaven is coming. He told everyone He would be the one that fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 61.  And His News is the Good News. He comes to restore broken relationships, to heal the sick, to bring comfort to the needy.

The church is a reflection of this Kingdom. A Kingdom where those that are excluded can come together and be united.  In the church, there is no boundary, as we are all children of God and all are saved through Christ.  All contend in One Spirit and in One Unity.  When one of us are lost, we all should feel a sense of lostness as well. We should always be generous and patience with others.  Because that's precisely how Jesus dealt with us.  Lots of grace and mercy.

Despite the 'pain' and despite all that happen....this is the Hope that I rely on.

A while ago, someone mentioned...

Oh I am glad so and so ain't weird.  Or else I don't want to hang out with them.

To which I reply....

If they are weird, no problem.  Send them to me, I will hang out with them.

Note: I emailed Frank earlier today to see if he wanted to hang out.  I have to always remember that the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of Reconciliation.  Him I follow, this I do.

[Additional: The dream of the Christian Community is too irresistible to give up...even if at the present it is not working and it 'fails' over and over, we should always strive to live out the gospel as it is bestowed upon us with the best of our ability. Besides, the Spirit is working....(even at times we don't 'feel' it).]

1 comment:

Wai Jia said...

Jesus loves "weirdoes"! lol, I'm weird too!! :D awesome revelation :) something im learning lots too... abt accepting pple who aren't easy to accept... Keep going Cliff!