I'm naturally introverted. Let's say an outgoing introvert - and deep down I prefer time spent by myself over time spent with people. I guess it's just easier that way for me. I don't have to answer to anyone and I can pretend that I don't need anyone either. That's also the beauty of being able to use our imaginations. We can pretend that no one else matters and we can do it all by ourselves.
It's just that it's not true. I will always need other people in my life. We all need community. Even as I've pretended that I was good on my own, the opposite has always been proven true. We are never as good apart as we are together as a community, it's how we survive through the rollercoasters of life.
Just like most of us, I watched the coverage of the aftermath of the violent deaths of seventeen students and teachers in Parkland, Florida. Though it seemed to be an unnecessary tragedy, I was struck by the instant unification of the community. The region rallied around each other, with some natives flying in from all over the country just to be there with family and friends. Sadly this isn't the first time I've witnessed this, but what is always truly mesmerizing for me is how instantaneous it is for people to embrace each other. I was struck by how easy, almost second nature, it can be to bring good to a community. We just shouldn't wait for tragedy to strike to urge us to move toward each other. This is not always an easy task, but it should be in our nature. Simply being there for someone else and having someone be there when we need it is what makes us who we are.
At City Chapel, that's what I'm hoping for, that's what I'm dreaming about. While I pray we never experience the type of tragedies that can crush our spirits, I have that hope and expectation that we will build ourselves around our communities. I hope we truly embrace Grand Rapids and show the city that we are not just in the city but deeply for the city. The church simply is not a building. This church is all of us, as a community surrounding our community. Jesus doesn't just go in on Sunday morning and set up coffee and leave after the last bagel is eaten. He doesn't disappear until the following Sunday and hide while we work and do life during the week. Jesus is in the details of our everyday activity. The success of this church won't be in the size of the congregation or the amount of money in the offering plate. I love the term, "bring heaven to earth", because I feel that is mostly what Jesus wants us to do here.
Hopefully we never experience the catastrophic incidents like we see on the news almost daily. However, the reality is that those around us may be experiencing their own versions of hell every day and could use a little dose of heaven from each one of us. When we can provide that to those who need it, when we can come together to provide a glimpse of who Jesus wants us to be, then we are being a church for the city. In our own ways, with our individual gifts and talents, we can truly embrace this city.
read more by James here: https://jamesaarongilmore.com/
- James Gilmore