when i was in university, i lived for two years at a 5 bedroom house close to my school. at times, we had up to 9 girls living in the house at one time. over those two years, i lived with almost 20 different people. we joked about how the house had a rotating door, and dubbed our home, “the hostel.”
it’s incredible what can happen in two years time: we celebrated engagements and marriages, graduations, acceptance letters, job proposals, and all of the other victories big and small that come with being in your early twenties.
we also found each other in our lowest points: mourning the loss of loved ones, broken relationships, heart break, and sharing and caring for each other when burdens were too great to bear alone.
at times there were arguments. fights even. at times there were broken dishes. dirty dishes. unkempt rooms. chores that didn’t get done. garbage that didn’t get taken out. but those were all consequences of living with so many other people.
but through all of that, i like to think that we supported each other. we had those late night talks at four in the morning in the kitchen about the things that kept us up at night – the things that we were all passionate about. we challenged each other – in life, in faith, in sport, and in academics (well, sometimes, academics).
we lived in community. we were a family with all of its ups and downs. we trusted each other. we cared for each other. and we loved each other.
it’s cool how the early church used to live in community – so much more than we do, today. if someone was in need. they gave, even when they had very little to give themselves. if someone was mourning, they mourned with them. if someone was celebrating, they celebrated with them. if someone needed food, or clothing, or support, or a place to sleep, they gave.
in 2 corinthians 8:1-15, there is chat to the church of corinth about how this kind of radical generosity was working in the macedonian church. about people who gave out of their “extreme poverty”. the challenge to the church of corinth was to include this idea of the grace of giving into the very fibre of our being.
sometimes when we are in high school or college, it can be difficult to think about how we can do this. i mean, students, in general are usually poor – i know, i was there for a long time and am still feeling the reprecussions of a student life! but giving doesn’t always have to mean money. giving can be time, or resources, or energy.
but, here’s the cool thing to: in the scripture it says that we aren’t being commanded to give, but rather, encouraged to do so. really, what’s the point of radical generosity if it is demanded? it should come from the heart. it should come out of experiences and circumstances that cause a desire to give (and not a guilty conscience).
it’s cool that in high school people can have really close relationships and “best friends” often know more about you than your parents or siblings – so what a cool time to be able to check out what the needs are in the lives of your friends. as a student, you have the ability, sometimes the time, and definitely the insight to be in the lives of your friends and be with them where they are at.
in high school and college/university, community is such a huge part of how you live. why not do positive things to build up the community, instead of hurting the community with all of the other crap that quite often comes along with it – gossip, slander, and the hurtful stuff that often happens when a bunch of people are tight knit.
so, i guess my challenge to you – and to myself – is to see how we can give: with our money, resources, time or energy, and not be afraid to do just that. the trick sometimes, too, is that we are pumped to give, but don’t receive very well. there is also that. there is a special grace to receiving as well. so if we give, we should also be ready and willing to receive, so that mixed-up grace just keeps on travelling around.
so, in community – as we all have in some form or another – let’s try to be the passer on of the grace (as if, without it being said, someone at the dinner table is asking you to pass the salt. sometimes you need the salt, and sometimes you pass the salt. but it keeps moving around the table).
remember that being a part of community is an incredible thing. and an incredible time to share in relationships. and remember that Christ put you in those relationships for a purpose. and of course, remember that, in Christ, you are enough.