A friend and I recently started watching The Walking Dead. (I know, I know. I'm way behind. But a little patience please, I'm still catching up on US pop culture following the Africa stint.)
If you are a Walking Deadhead or just a fan of the zombie monster flick, you are probably familiar with the social commentary and themes which underlie the genre. From racism to socialism to individualism, zombies are famous for commenting on the ills of society while scaring the pants off us.
I'm only halfway through season two (so please no spoilers from you who've just started into the new season), but I'm loving the commentary on community versus individualism.
According to The Walking Dead, in the case of zombie Apocalypse, it is better to be with a group than to strike out on your own.
Obviously there is safety in numbers, but more than that - the group protects you, the group provides for your needs, the group works together for the benefit of the group and the detriment of the zombies. Those characters whose individualism gets in the way of the group are the ones who struggle most.
The problem is, the character I identify most with, Andrea, is one of the more individualistic of the group - one of the ones whose individualistic ideals are always getting her into trouble, and I identify with her precisely because of her individualism.
I identify with her single-woman-in-her-thirties-I-can-do-it-myself attitude. I identify with her sense of outrage over the blatant machismo of the men in the group. I identify with her need and want to provide for herself and be seen as the equal of the men in the group. Andrea, I get it. Oh, how I get you girl.
At home group this past week, we talked in depth about biblical community and what the tenants of biblical community might mean when applied to our newly forming group.
Like you always do when the topic of biblical community is brought up, we read through Acts 2:42-47 - the warm and happy-fuzzy passage about how the early church lived together in harmony, sharing what they had with one another and eating in each others homes.
I know its terrible, but a part of me hates that passage.
I realize I'm supposed to love it. I realize its the ideal we're all supposed to be striving for. But it's the honeymoon.
Its this amazing time after the miracle of Pentecost in which the church grew in strength and unity, but it was short lived. Short lived because a few chapters later, persecution hits and the church is scattered. Persecution and disagreements and some fairly significant theological fallouts. It's ugly and messy and very, very human.
That's what biblical community is - ugly and messy and very, very human.
Biblical community is choosing to engage in the mire and the muck. It's choosing to expect the possibility you will probably will get hurt at some point. It's choosing to set aside your individualism for the sake of the group.
In our discussion at home group, we were asked what scares us most about being in community and what we look forward to most about being in community.
I told the group I am scared of being vulnerable. I'm scared of opening myself up and allowing these people - these strangers really - to know me and my stories. But I also told the group I'm most looking forward to being vulnerable. I'm looking forward to having people in my life who I may not always trust, but I trust their walk with the Lord. I'm looking forward to having people who know my stories, who can call me on my crap, and who can stand with me when I need someone in the gap.
What I realized and remembered as we talked, is that community is ugly and messy, but I'm so, so thankful that is very, very human. I'm thankful for the ugly and messy parts because I know I learn from and grow more from those ugly, messy moments than from the ideal, honeymoon moments.
I think the ugliness and the mess is worth coming together and breaking bread over. Let's share when there's need. Let's rejoice in times of joy. Let's lament in times of mourning. Let's be community in all the ugly mess of it. And in so doing, let's allow biblical community to transform us and teach about a loving, relational, community-minded God.
And who knows, maybe someday this community we're forming might just save us from the zombies.