My faith community did an exercise on Sunday. Since our church body is about 13 people total, we're pretty much all on the same page. We read Acts 4:32-35
"All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God's great favor was upon them all. There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need."
Then we talked about what could/will most likely happen when our community grows and the kind of people that we would be most uncomfortable with start showing up. Everyone thought about their "profile" person, the one who encompasses all that stuff that makes our skin crawl. One person said that hers would be a KJV only reading, know-it-all fundamentalist, the kind of person that would enter a community like ours to tell us how wrong we were. One person said that hers would be a person who legitimately needed help from others, but sucked the life out of those who tried without a commitment to change from the person who needed the help.
Mine would be the person who co-opts all the time in Bible study to recite an unrelated miracle story that they'd read in a forwarded email or Chicken Soup for a Grandmother's Soul. The kind of person who gets super emotional about a person's goods or bads or slight interest in Jesus and pushes a bunch of Christianese down her/his throat. That or the person who would come in and impose a church standard on the community: "Why don't you have the American or Christian flag on the stage? Why don't you have a stage? Where are your bulletins? Why don't the pastors wear suits and ties to preach? Why do they ask for input during "sermon time? How dare you "allow" a woman to be a pastor!"
We read the beginning of Acts 6:
"But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. Those who spoke Greek complained against those who spoke Hebrew, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers."We apostles should spend our time preaching and teaching the word of God, not administering a food program," they said. "Now look around among yourselves, brothers, and select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. We will put them in charge of this business. Then we can spend our time in prayer and preaching and teaching the word."
Kinds of people we don't want to be around will inevitably get here. And our loving response can't be to run. I don't like that there are types of people that I don't like. I want to cherish the people that annoy me as this fascinating and important person in my life. After we stewed on all that for a while, we participated in communion by breaking a piece of bread and imagining that as we did it, we were sharing in the experience with our "profile" person. It's a lot to reconcile, and that's probably the point.