While I was there, I spent some time with a good friend, but to carve out that time meant I had to sit through his small group get together. Nice people, good discussion, excellent desserts, the meeting itself was fine. It wasn't until afterwards that I was astounded. We were talking about the group and some of their past experiences, and my friend told me how several years earlier one of the couple's marriage was in trouble, and how the guys met with the husband and spoke truth to him, encouraged him to fight for his marriage, and, well, loved him. And the girls did the same with the wife. And the result was that God saved that marriage and made it something solid. And how they're doing the same thing with another couple right now. By the end I was shaking my head, just astonished at the depth of community they were expressing to each other, the risky involvement in each others lives. I told him that and he looked a little puzzled and said, "Huh! Yeah, I guess that is special, I hadn't really thought about it. Usually I'm just frustrated that it doesn't seem like anything is getting done. It's good me to hear that perspective!"
A pretty good picture of what it means to do all those one another things the Bible talks about, isn't it? I could be the teacher here and talk about the principles we can draw out of that--the transforming power of community or how you need to invest a lot of what may seem like insignificant time to lay the foundation for significant events or how we all need this kind of connection. But I' rather go beyond the classroom with you and ask a more important question: what about you? Are you involved in a community like that? Are there people in your life that would be that risky with you, would care that much about you? And for my Oasis family--are you connected with others from this community in that kind of way?
I confess I walked away that night (freezing in the cold and wet that is Ohio) thinking that we think we do this doing life together thing pretty well, but wondering if all of us are in this kind of relationship. And pretty sure we aren't. You may be surprised to know that I think of you all alot, and I worry when I sense that you're disconnected, withdrawn from these kinds of meaningful/essential relationships. You know that I believe we all need to live in this kind of community, where we are loved, protected, cared for, and do the same to others. I need people who know me well enough, love me well enough, that if my marriage is in trouble, they won't simply watch me drift away, but will gather around me and speak truth and love to me. And so do you.
So, if you're from Oasis, you're going to get an invitation from me soon to extend our connection time, to give opportunity for relationships to go deeper, I'm going to lead you to the waters of community...which of course I can't make you drink from! And I'm going to encourage you to involve yourself in the things that promote this kind of intimacy, like our retreats, and potlucks, and campouts. It takes a lot of time together to get to the nuggets of significance, to delve below the surface of superficiality. To trust.
And if you're not from Oasis, find that community somewhere, go on an all out search until you find it. Because let's face it, ultimately relationships are everything, the eternal things. And it's better to walk this path together than alone.