Free to be different?

Life can be transient. Continually moving, never settling. We may never even meet the people we interact with on a daily basis. Isolation and loneliness; they’re epidemics hidden behind busy Facebook profiles and Insta-smiles.

The opening pages of the Bible reveal what it took years for professionals to figure out, “It is not good for [people] to be alone.” Community and connection are part of our basic human needs. Yet living in close proximity doesn’t make you part of the community. It takes more than that.

Circle of hands

Community must be built, over time, on a common idea that draws people together. The safety of friendship allows sharing and participation, not brushing issues under the carpet, but communicating humbly and openly when we don’t see eye-to-eye.

Uniformity is not the mark of a strong community. Indeed, the imposition of a particular way of doing or being can break down the sense of community, depriving people of their ability to think for themselves.

There are many freedoms that we have taken for granted; freedoms that have been hard-won but even in the 21st Century are not available to all. Even in “civilised” western society these things are under threat. Freedom to choose your religion or to change it. Freedom to say what you think, even if your choices are unpalatable to others – you might call it the freedom “to offend and to be offended”.

When we have the freedom to be different and yet are committed to each other in spite of our differences, when we live in harmony not unison, that makes for a much more vibrant community.

Community doesn’t come free. Like all investments, there is a cost. Coffee. Time. Emotion… But if you’ve immersed yourself in community, you’ll know the dividends far surpass the investment.

Ask yourself, “What can I do to invest in my community today?”

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