Why True Community Starts With Individual Identity
It may seem a little odd to begin a discussion of what life in true community looks like with a discussion of our individual identities. My point here, however, is that without a proper, biblical view of our own identity it is impossible to live in unity with other people. To illustrate this, lets think about a pair of motorcycle goggles. When a person is wearing a pair of goggles with a colored lens, the whole world appears to be colored the same tint. No one would argue that the world is in fact the color of the lenses, but to the person wearing the goggles, the whole world appears in that color.
Just as the motorcycle goggle lens lends its tint to the whole world in the perception of the biker, our own ideas about identity color not only our own life, but also the way that we look at our entire world. This is probably most easily seen on the concept of expectation as we discussed in the previous chapter. As an example, lets say that you have spent your whole life being told that good Christian men do not have long hair. It is not only difficult for you to grow your own hair long, but it is also difficult for you to accept that anyone with long hair could be a good Christian. So you see, these "expectation goggles" not only affect your view of yourself, but also your view of everyone else.
So how does this affect community? Well the problem with these "expectation goggles" is that they by necessity create a barrier to true community. If true community is a place where we are free to be real, in spite of our shortcomings, then expectations are deadly to true community. When we believe that we are expected to be a certain way, and we are not, then we are really only left with two options. We either put up the facade of being OK when in reality we are not, or we can give up the hope of ever measuring up and withdraw from community altogether. Either way, the possibility of growing deeper in meaningful relationship is prevented and we are left with the choice between superficial relationship or no relationship at all.
In our next installment, we will explore how being secure in our identity allows us to remove these "expectation goggles" and begin to see others as Christ views them.
Men of Praise Motorcycle Ministry