Personhood Demands Community
Does negation of family, clan, tribe and community and pressing towards individual freedom, rights and wants lead to inevitable chaos?
I was raised with familiarity and responsibility due to close proximity to family members. Many rural communities in Ontario remain the same today. Local churches may still reflect this and new pastors need to know they are entering a community of family and relationship that is more than their coming together to build a church and to seek to follow Christ.
The new pastor has entered a tribe, a clan, a community just as cohesive and united as would be entrance into any clan or tribe or community in what you used to be called ‘the mission field,’ overseas.
Within each church there are tribal leaders and intricate relationships. Father, sons and brothers, mother, daughters-in-law, and cousins may still live within tight boundaries of kinship drawn by precise bloodlines.
In Arab or Bedouin cultures there remains deeply ingrained codes of personal honour, the dictates of vengeance, the obligation of hospitality, and the near-sacred dedication to family (see Sandra Mackey: ‘Mirror of the Arab World: Lebanon in Conflict.’
When does mission, evangelism, church life, community impact follow lines of family and clan and tribe, and when not? Does one leave one family and tribe (or is the former life in community trumped) by entrance into the new Family of God, the Church? Is this part of what Jesus is saying when he tells us that one’s enemies (when one comes to faith) may be those of his own household, and that if we don’t ‘hate’ father, mother, sister and brother (at least relatively speaking), in following Him, that we cannot be His disciple.
But does the individual faith, and seeker-driven service draw one into a new family in Christ, in new relationships, responsibilities, allegiances and loyalties? Or, has modern Western society simply replaced the old allegiances (rural values, family life and living in small town (even urban ‘pocket’s’) community - not for something better (at least as provided for and reinforced in new church community) but for individual tyranny and eventual societal chaos?