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Why community and mission aren't easy

One way of defining missional living is this: as an active pursuit of the restoring of the shalom of God’s Kingdom personally, locally and globally through justice and compassion. Because modernity and postmodernity have riddled our Western context with values for the pursuit of self at the expense of community, the consumption for self at the expense of community, and the loss of identity of self in relation to community, we have been left without an anchor or foundation on which to base social justice.

Like Icharus soaring closer and closer to the sun, the Enlightenment began to raise the value of freedom to unsustainable heights. Freedom from religion, freedom from being controlled by institutions like the Church, freedom from the constraints of others. But this freedom was always held in check, in part, by the value for reason that Modernity espoused. Reason held sway over the excesses of freedom. As Modernity began to be challenged and collapse, Postmodernity continued the thread of freedom and autonomy without the constraint of reason. The damage was done. The dam of reason was permanently broken.

With the collapse of many of Modernity’s values came the collapse of Modernity’s meta-narrative. And now, instead of viewing life through a meta-narrative, Postmodernity views life through the narrative of “self” – an autonomous individual who is unique by virtue of existence. The Postmodern “self” is now free from the meta-narrative, free from the constraints of anything that does not fit into the “self’s” value system, which has been replaced by personal preferences. It is not difficult to imagine that the “we” and “us” that we are called to in Christian community is now a threat to my autonomy.

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image: Reaching Out To Me - originally uploaded by Kevin Day

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