Growing up my Mom and Dad have always told me to “Enjoy your youth!” or “Take advantage of every moment in your college years, son! They’ll be the best ones ever!” There is so much truth in what they have said, but something has always not settled right in my heart about this ideology that these are the only best years. Do we have to give in to the 9-to-5 once we graduate? Does the tie become our go-to accessory when choosing our daily wardrobe? Am I supposed to be raising a family before I am 30? Where do these cultural norms come from and why do I have to make them my own?
I’ve aways seen Christianity as an adventure. Honestly, that is how God got me to believe in Him. He promised me a life better than one I could ever create by myself. I’ll elaborate more on that story some other time, but for now I will simply say that He promised me no ordinary life. So who is to say that I have to settle for the American Dream? Isn’t that a materialistic and egotistical ideal anyway?
I think why my parent’s eyes always light up when they talk about their young adult years is because of the community they had around them. It was tight-knit, fun, and they always had friends to hang out with. There were no commitments, sports practices, piano lessons, tutoring or parent-teacher meetings. Life was simple. But somewhere along the way people moved, children were born, new commitments were made and community took the back-burner.
Sure there is Sunday school, small groups and retreats, but sometimes these are more commitments and not community. I am not saying that my parents don’t have authentic community, they actually have paved the way for so many people to discover how to read the bible, share life’s deepest secrets, pray honestly and love unconditionally. But there are people who are being fooled by shallow community. You know, the ones who poke their head to small group in every once in awhile, whose prayer requests are always self-centered, who come to church only when it is convenient. This is what I think of as cultural Christianity. It is a faith that is built around you and your comfort zones. It is there only to help ease the ache when your heart is crying out for someone to listen, love and guide you in your walk.
In the book, Kingdom Journeys, by Seth Barnes, he says:
“Community and vulnerability are essential for the church of the broken. We must authentically share both our pain and joy. As one body, we will deeply experience one another’s hurts, as well as their honor. As Paul says, ‘If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it’” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
We are meant for rich community and that is what I am looking forward to in the coming years. Not just in my youth, but forever. The fun times I have had in my youth do not have to end, you know why? Because the Bible shows us through both Jesus’ disciples and Paul how to live in authentic community. There was no college, no youth group or greek life (and I don’t mean ancient greek life) back then. These people came from all ages and all walks of life.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10 (ESV)
I urge everyone, no matter how old you are to seek community like they did in the Bible. One of the best words that describes what community is to me, is “Ohana.” If you have ever watched the movie Lilo and Stitch, you will understand that it means “family.” That is what community is. I long for Ohana, and when I don’t have it, my heart begins to harden and my focus goes to self and away from God. I want the real deal and not the fake stuff. So for many who ask why I am doing the World Race, I will tell them, “I am doing it for Ohana!” I am doing it to learn how to love, give, serve, grow and be the me God created me to be.