“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.” ~ C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Community is both a beautiful and frightening thing. At times I’ve experienced the worst of community. I’ve seen churches split into vicious camps, individuals rejected by a group because of a failure, creativity and inspiration stifled by control, and trust and confidence eroded by gossip. When I witness the ugliness of community, I’m tempted to run like the wind. Everything in me wants to retreat into protective isolation, far away from the risk of people-inflicted pain.

But I’ve also seen the beauty of community. I’ve seen faces of compassion looking into mine as I poured out frustration and tears. I’ve heard writers cheer a fellow struggler after one-too-many rejections. I’ve watched churches unite to provide food, clothing and the unmatched love of Jesus to people with no hope. I’ve felt my sides aching from raucous laughter instigated by the unique banter between friends.

Something otherworldly happens when people come together. Yes, at times our humanity makes community a frightening thing. But when community happens—true, pure, holy community—I believe we see the fingerprint of God. Communion is a joining, and it cannot happen in the presence of only one. Sure, there is safety is isolation, but there is no magnificence.

Think of it this way: It is entirely possible for me to create a nice picture with simply a blue crayon. But if my blue is joined with the reds, yellows, greens, pinks, oranges and purples of others, something entirely different is created. A rainbow perhaps. Maybe even the Sistine Chapel.

Magnificence.

Community is messy. It’s complicated, uncomfortable, often unpredictable and always a bit risky. But magnificence is possible only by allowing your color to be mixed with the colors of others.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” ~ Colossians 3:12-14, The Message

(photo courtesy of ba1969, stock.xchng)

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