Seeking to be a Body Together
by Mark Votava
I have experienced the church in my life as a building that you attend once a week where it is very difficult to share life with others outside of this space. This always seemed very lonely and frustrating to me as I have wanted the expression of church to be more authentic. I have always wanted church to be different, maybe a network of relationships in a place where I share life with others in the context I live in.
- The Interdependence of the early church
I often wonder what it would be like to be around those Christians in the book of Acts. They were real flesh-and-blood people like us who saw a sacredness in their life together as followers of Christ. They needed one another. They cared for one another. They trusted one another. They were in relationship with one another.
- The practice of shared life together
They probably didn’t see this as radical; it was just how they lived as Christ’s body together. “Every day they continued to meet together … They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…” (Acts 2:46).
- Seeking something beyond institutionalization
As Christianity started to become institutionalized and the idea of just going to a service became more common, some followers of Christ went out into the desert to create new communities where they could live their faith together in everyday life. This is how monasticism started. They wanted to seek God in the solitude of the desert apart from the over-institutionalization that they felt was corrupting the body of Christ.
- Living relationally with one another
All of this happened a long time ago. But how will we respond to the institutionalization of the body of Christ in our time? Will we give up and let our imaginations be imprisoned by all of this or will we live relationally with one another, rooted in local contexts within neighborhoods?
- A living breathing body
The body of Christ is not some mechanism with no heart and life, but a living breathing body. All bodies breathe, move, change and relate to their environment. When bodies are unhealthy they stop functioning properly. When bodies are dead we bury them.
- Becoming an evolving body in everyday life
Kester Brewin says, “We must reestablish ourselves as the body of Christ, not the machine of Christ. Bodies are organic, dynamic, sentient, and conscious … Machines break down, while bodies evolve …” We should be an evolving body in everyday life together. Will we feel the pain and the joy of living life together and loving one another?
- We are not building a machine but a body
These are difficult real-life experiences that we cannot escape if we are to be human. We are not building a machine but a body. I don’t want to become a part of a machine where I become the very fuel that it needs to work.
Why is it so difficult to share life with others?