One of the biggest failures of the Protestant reformation was the transition into an individualized faith. When Guttenberg invented the printing press and Luther translated the Bible into German, the Church developed into an individualized interpretation, an individual salvation, and the traditional Christian life in community began to die. I have come to the realization over the past few years of my utter need for community with fellow Christians. There is enough going on in our week that can drive us crazy and leave us exhausted. For me, Christians have become for me a source of sanity in what feels like, at times, an insane world at times. This is why the incarnation is one of the most beautiful teachings of the Bible. As people that bear the image of God, we can actually incarnate the presence of God to one another.
Jean Vanier, the creator of the L’Arche communities that serve mentally handicapped people, said that there are three things that create community: Prayer, Eating, and Celebration. If Christian leaders don’t learn to help facilitate community, especially community that learns to bond together like this, then we should have very little support as believers. The life of faith is not something we take, it is something we receive. If we don’t learn an utter dependency upon others, then we will fail to receive some of the greatest blessings that faith has to offer. We will be trapped within our own worldview, belief system, and live in the tragic pain of isolation. All of this can be prevented if we learn the joy of simply eating with one another, praying with each other, and celebrating another person’s existence. These simple acts fulfill one of our deepest human needs: the need to long for someone and the need to belong.
Much of the reason why we are falling as a society, I believe, is because of the fact that we crave to be individuals. Society tells us to look out for number one, and we are taught in the sociological model of relativism which is an individualized structure of thought, all of which continues to isolate people. I think this way of living can only create more anxiety, more fear, and more depression, because our deepest, fundamental needs are not being met. If Christian leaders don’t help create and embody community, then we are failing to teach others how to truly be a human being.