Learning to live in genuine community is one of the central goals that we have set for ourselves. And, to be honest, we did not set the goalit is set before us in Scripture as one of the basic elements of the Christian faith. We are one in Jesus Christ, and this is not to be limited to Sunday morning when everyone is wearing their best clothes, when pretty much everyone took a shower, and everyone is on their best behavior. This is the place where we are woven into community, but the thing is not supposed to come unraveled as we are pulling out of the parking lot.
But community on Monday morning . . . thats another thing. And Thursday afternoon can be even more difficult. Because living in community is what takes the rough edges off, but before it takes the rough edges off, living in community reveals those rough edges. Some of you are regularly late to things. Some of you dont return things that you have borrowed in a timely way. Some of you think that community means other people baby-sitting for you. Some of you think that community means having a right to be a grouch. Some of you think that community means flirting with all the sisters, or with all the brothers as the case may be. Community brings all this out, but community, over time, is also supposed to deal with it.
We are tangled up in one anothers lives, and this is as it ought to be. But we are not tangled up so that we would surrender to various forms of thoughtlessness. Confronting this kind of thing as appropriate, covering it in love as appropriate, is the training ground that God has given to us. We are a rag tag collection of forgiven sinners, and a number of us have some messy things lying about in our lives. The task before us is to pick up, and to help one another do so in all patience.
So patience does not mean leaving it alone. Addressing it firmly does not mean impatience. And learning how to do this is one of Gods great gifts to us.
[T]he differences between a man and a woman are at the best so obstinate and exasperating that they practically cannot be got over unless there is an atmosphere of exaggerated tenderness and mutual interest. To put the matter in one metaphor, the sexes are two stubborn pieces of iron; if they are to be welded together, it must be while they are red-hot. Every woman has to find out that her husband is a selfish beast, because every man is a selfish beast by the standard of a woman. But let her find out the beast while they are both still in the story of 'Beauty and the Beast.' Every man has to find out that his wife is cross - that is to say, sensitive to the point of
madness: for every woman is mad by the masculine standard. But let him find out that she is mad while her madness is more worth considering than anyone else's sanity.
There is one other general point I would emphasise here before we leave this matter of the content of the sermon; and that is that we are to preach the Gospel, and not to preach about the Gospel. That is a very vital distinction, which one cannot easily put into words, but which is nevertheless really important. There are men who think that they are preaching the Gospel when actually in fact they are simply saying things about the Gospel.
When Emerson decided, in 1832, that he could no longer celebrate the Lords Supper unless the bread and wine were removed, an important step in the vaporization of religion in America was taken, and the spirit of that step has continued apace. When the physical fact is separated from the spiritual reality, the dissolution of belief is eventually inevitable.