Recently, I engaged in a small discussion with some SMS students who were talking about how nice it is to live in the country away from so many people—especially weird people. I’ve lived in cities almost half of my life and enjoy cities, but it was now obvious that my enjoyment of living in cities was definitely in the minority. I didn’t say much more, but that short discussion got me thinking about our comfortable Christian communities.
Living within our Mennonite communities is quite comfortable and secure. Community is supposed to be that way. Our churches, schools, and businesses all network together enabling us to be more effective in the kingdom of God. There truly are many benefits and comforts of living in a community, but sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice these blessings.
Many reasons exist why individuals leave a community. Sometimes individuals leave for negative reasons. However, I would like to propose a positive reason for leaving a community—namely, leaving community for the sake of community. If we truly value community, we will want others to experience the joys and benefits of living in a community, too. If we truly value community, particularly Christian community, we will want to see Christian communities established in places where Christian communities don’t yet exist.
Why do we sometimes need to leave the comforts of our Christian community? It’s necessary, because Jesus commanded us to expand His kingdom until Christian communities exist in all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). Every lost soul around us needs to hear the gospel but so does every nation (ethnic group). Going to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) doesn’t necessarily mean that we must always travel to distant geographical locations. The “all nations” and “ends of the earth” have already come to us as refugees. In Lancaster City alone, at least 500 refugees a year are being resettled from many different nations.
Leaving community for the sake of establishing communities will cost us. Jesus left His comfortable “community” in heaven to die and make a way of salvation for us. We, in turn as His disciples, receive the privilege and responsibility of carrying on Jesus’ mission so that all nations, kindred, peoples, and tongues will one day be around the throne and the Lamb worshipping God (Rev. 7:9-12). Leaving community for the sake of community costs us, but those who “sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Ps. 126:5).
I personally love my job at SMS and enjoy seeing how the kingdom of God is being built in small ways every single day. SMS plays a crucial role in maintaining our strong communities. I’m so thankful that I am privileged to help contribute to the building of God’s kingdom at SMS this year.