Well, does it? Surely you remember the hullabaloo that Hillary Clinton raised when she told us that “It takes a village to raise a child ” in the 1990s? Christians rightfully protested because we knew that she meant only that government had preference over parents in decisions regarding the lives of children. That is absurd in the extreme.
On the other hand, think of that village again. Do any of us really raise our children alone? Would we really want to? We predominantly raise them, but not exclusively. On further examination, that was the Lord’s plan all along. A book I’m reading (and will review very soon) really got me thinking.
The Lord always intended that we live in community with each other. Adam was unfulfilled alone and needed community. That has always been the plan really. Jesus lived that way when He showed us what life on Earth was supposed to look like. To top it off, the Lord gave us the local church. Wouldn’t you call that a community lifestyle? Read Acts 4 again if you just can’t remember.
There was a time when community was key to our lives in America. It wasn’t too long ago (if you must know, I’m 42) that I was a boy growing up in Happy Hollow down in the Smoky Mountains and knew every single one of the hundred or so people living in that little community. I couldn’t have done anything too bad because any one of them would have called my parents and told them. I suspect that is actually a very good thing. I wouldn’t have wanted to be embarrassed in front of all of them! Sadly, in most communities that is not what it once was.
The question is, do we still have that sense of community in our churches? That surely is one of the reasons the Lord designed it the way He did. It should be true that all there are on my side and want to see me raise my children for the Lord. They probably will have my back and let me know if my children get out of hand. It should work that way.
I realize that you may know of a few super-critical church members that ever wait to lambaste your children. Just remember that they are wrong and that doesn’t make the design wrong. Plus you may know some who you could never explain that, perhaps, something about their children needs to be brought to their attention. They are the type who as we were standing around glowing embers would be offended by you suggesting that their child burning the church to the ground was not exactly a good deed! Still, a community designed around the unity we have in Christ is what it is meant to be.
If parenting weren’t hard enough, many forgo this wonderful help. The issue really goes far beyond parenting. You and I need community too. We need encouragement and accountability. We have built into us this need of others. Were this not true, we Christians would be even more pathetic than we are at reaching the world for Christ.
We need the village to share our journeys, to lift each other up, to carry each other when we are weak, and to take away the nagging loneliness that is all around us. Be yourself, but embrace the village–most especially that community called the local church.