Every community sees itself differently. The community’s rationale rests on the attributes that define the differences within from without. A community’s awareness of itself could be defined by cultural differences, national boundaries, economic, or values. As one crosses natural boundaries, it is interesting to observe how similar communities look and behave alike. Chinese communities everywhere have more in common than differences. Church structures, even ones that emphasize the value and importance of local governance, are remarkably alike. Government and non-profit communities can be seen as siblings that do not realize they are related.
In recent days, I have met several new communities. Some are quite new. They enthusiasm and idealism are refreshing! They do not know what is ahead. The bruising, drama, and trauma that naturally comes with time has yet to hit them. Yet, even in the differences they are far more similar to other communities than they are different.
A common thread that I rediscovered with each is the desire to be exclusive and special. Communities operate with a set of values and priorities. One can see and experience them though the actions of the people inside. Sometimes the values are unspoken, yet the outsider has firsthand knowledge. On other occasions, it is a trait that leaders wish was not there, yet it continues as a self-defining ticket to enter.
If there was any single trait that I could erase it would be one of exclusiveness based on perceptions. I think that you differently than me, I must exclude you. Your skin is a different color, so I exclude you. Your accent is different from mine, so you cannot be a member.
Imagine a community defined by compassion, love, and teamwork. Have those values and you are in! No other differences count. I am not the first to see this dream. Others have seen it, a few wrote about it. “When he served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good—not only ours, but the whole world’s.” (1 John 2.2) I love being part of this community.