I was 8 years old. A complete dork and book nerd with no athletic tendencies. That is when my parents let me know it was time for me to get outside and play sports with the other kids.
The sport? Soccer.
The best part? The uniform.
I’m not even joking. The uniform was so exciting. My cleats, knee high socks, and a red shirt with my own number on the back.
The reason I was thrilled about the uniform was not because I was the only one with the uniform. Not because I was “cooler” than everyone else. I loved the uniform because everyone else had a uniform.
You see, it was so exciting to be on a team. To be a part of something. Wearing my uniform with the other kids on the team made me feel important and significant. That was until practice officially started.
I was horrible. And the coaches had every good reason to be frustrated with me.
One evening during practice, a kid kicked the ball into my stomach (by accident). The coach ran up to me asking, “Are you okay?” I ran in her direction, shoved her away, and kept running…
To my mom. In front of all the other boys. Yep. I was not MVP.
helping the team?
Whenever we won a game, we would get together and do the whole, “go-team-thing”. But because I added no value to the team, I always felt bad.
Then one game, I got my chance.
For some reason beyond me, the ball was in my possession. I started moving the ball down the field with everyone far behind. “Yes!” I thought to myself. Finally, my chance to score a point and show I could play! I kicked…
Score! For the other team.
The “goal” of soccer is simple – get the ball into the opponent’s goal and keep the ball out of your own goal. Not only did I fail to get the ball into the opponent’s goal, I had kicked the ball into our goal.
It was embarrassing. I failed to add value to the team. And then when I was on the field, I worked against the common purpose of our team.
Why do I tell you that story?
Because we have been made – designed – to desire community. We want to be a part of something, a group, a team. To belong to something bigger than “me”.
Here is the problem. With the increase in technology, we have increasingly become more withdrawn and individualistic. Relationships and genuine communication are now endangered species.
Last month, the New York Times reported that “there seems to have been a decline in the number of high-quality friendships”. No, they are not counting the number of Facebook friends you have but the number of people you can really trust:
In 1985, most Americans told pollsters that they had about three confidants, people with whom they could share everything. Today, the majority of people say they have about two. In 1985, 10 percent of Americans said they had no one to fully confide in, but by the start of this century 25 percent of Americans said that.
Want to know why everyone is talking about “community” these days? Well, that’s why. Now more than ever, we are searching for that sense of belonging.
Here’s the thing.
We have a deep desire not only for community, but also for a common purpose. You and I have been made to want to score points for the “team”. To come alongside others and pursue a common purpose together.
That is basic human nature.
That is how God designed not only us, but also His church. The church is a community of believers working to pursue a common purpose together.
The church is a community of believers working to pursue a common purpose together.
But this church is NOT important. It is not important to those who are…
- Sitting on the sidelines. They add no value to the team. They fail in pursuing the common purpose with the other believers. They sit content, comfortable watching the game but never participating. They will tell you they’re “on the team”, but the church is not important to them.
- Running in the wrong direction. They bring down the team. They fail in pursuing the common purpose with the other believers. They decide to go in their own direction to the detriment of the team. They will tell you they’re “on the team”, but the church it is not important to them.
As a community, we have an exciting purpose:
- Intimately pursue joy in God
- Openly display this joy to others
What an incredible mission. A higher goal we’re to pursue together as a community and team. But to those who fail to grasp this passion and pursue this purpose…
…church is not important.
- “Intimacy for the Avoidant” – nytimes.com