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Jesus: Advocating Community

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Advocating Community

Some would say God, or the author of Genesis, got it right: "It is not good for man to be alone." For as long as there have been humans, there have been communities. We are communal beings. From the first small tribes to the modern day mega cities, communities have evolved just as much as the human species. There are many ways that one can identify with a community. Human beings as well as many other species, especially primates, need these groupings as much as most social animals. Watch as every Sunday thousands sit distant from their closest sports field, straining to see the players, although they can far more easily watch the game at home in the comfort of their living rooms. Yet, in modern times, the community seems to be falling apart. They are not as strong as they once were. It is time we look back to the social climate that forged one of the most influential revolutionaries of all time. The historical Jesus of Nazareth. As John Crossan said “If the supreme value for the twentieth-century American imagination is individualism , based on economics and property, that for the first-century Mediterranean imagination can be called, to the contrary, groupism.” Our society has experienced major social shifts that would be unimaginable to a small Jewish town in ancient Palestine. Individuals no longer realize they need to rely on others in the way they once did. Modern technology has pushed us farther and farther into our own homes and away from those around us. Especially in the United States. Recently a study done by City Observatory found that about one third of Americans have never interacted with a neighbor. Never. This is not historically normal behavior. Only in our relatively modern society does this occur. This has created a society where people are so attached with their own lives, they are detached from the community. This is something Jesus, someone who understood the importance of community, would try and fix.
Jesus would first start small. He would become a prominent figure in the community he is living in. Through his actions he would set an example. Jesus would become a community organizer. He would go door to door meeting the members of the community and inviting them to events. This would build up his community and the community’s sense of itself. Jesus would then tear the family apart, giving father no favor over the daughter and mother no favor over the son. He would show and teach that we are all equal and create what some would call a commune like community. “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided.” He would then bring in the outcasts of the society. Showing the members of his community that he accepts all and that all are welcome, if they are willing to listen. Jesus would very much be perceived as a cult leader to modern media and the casual observer. However unlike the leader of a cult Jesus would not be obsessed with keeping his followers away from the public. His goal would be for the public to witness as much as possible what he was doing. Once the community had reached Jesus’s standards he would move on to other communities, instructing his neighbors to do the same. ”He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits… Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas "The kingdom is like a woman who was carrying a jar full of meal. While she was walking along on a distant road, the handle of the jar broke and the meal spilled behind her. She didn't know it; she hadn't noticed a problem.” I believe there is a similar parallel to today’s society. If I am leading a life of work and solitude, like many Americans do, it’s very possible I will not notice the negative habits and routines I am living in. There is no built-in support group in my community. A community challenges you to be better. It opens your eyes to the needs of others and teaches you to work through conflicts. In a true functioning community there is a built in support group for those suffering. The sufferer would have a safety net. This is what Jesus would show us, the benefits of community.

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