Facebook is one of those social media platforms that has truly hit the mainstream. Everybody's grandma seems to be using it. And if you've used Facebook yourself, you're probably familiar with a feature called "unfriending." This is when you go through your list of "friends" or social media connections and disassociate yourself from someone on your list. It's quick. It's painless. One minute someone is cluttering your feed with all sorts of angry or inappropriate content that is impossible to ignore...the next they are gone, immediately silenced! The practice is so widespread that the easy process of unfriending has entered our cultural lingo. You can find it on Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. "Unfriend: to remove (someone) from a list of designated friends on a person's social networking website."
As long as there is social media there will always be online community and with it, unfriending. But there is community of another sort...community of self-acknowledged sinners where Christ stands in the center and the Spirit of God is at work causing people to aspire to a more rewarding goal: authentic, flesh-and-blood community. Christian community is never perfect. But at its best it is where people seek God's help to carry one another's burdens and to deal with one another with integrity. That means having the freedom to go (as one sinner goes to another) to those who have erred and to show them their fault, rather than talking about it, behind their back (18:15). It means involving others, when that doesn't work. It even entails a painful word of reproach, when all else fails...a kind of tough love, to win the other sinner over (18:18). But such intentional, authentic community between sinners is worth the trouble. When we involve ourselves in such risky, and at times, painful community in the name of the only true Reconciler, Jesus Christ, we are privileged with a little glimpse of heaven. After all, Jesus Himself, is there (18:20)!
It is only natural to at times want to unfriend. The kingdom of God is for those who know firsthand the mercy of the One who has forgiven them, and have humbled themselves "as little children" (18:1-4) do, as a result. May a little of that brand of community continue to inform the community that you are given to build with others again this week!