Designed for Community Living
After finishing season 3 of The Chosen recently, we received a dose of bad news: season 4 won’t air until 2024. The prospect of waiting a year until our next viewing filled us with disappointment.
Considering the top 10 national box office performance of two recent theatrical packaging of season 3 episodes, plenty of viewers would agree.
Among the many reasons we like the series so much is the very human face it puts on the disciples who closely followed Jesus. They come off as the same kind of folks we see in church and other venues each week.
The thought of ordinary disciples came to me recently during the latest spiritual retreat sponsored by a group I’ve long been associated with; it hosts events for men and women every spring and fall.
In the past, a dozen “first timers” had to sign up in order for the event to be held.
However, in these post-pandemic times, amid struggles to reinvigorate our numbers, the board made a key decision: the show will go on even if there’s only one newcomer.
A week before this spring’s event, two men wanted to go. Two days before, the number was up to three. The day it started, a fourth signed up.
The first evening, the leader called out the names of first-time attendees and the team that would help guide their experience.
As the men walked forward, I noticed that three of them were using canes or other devices to help them navigate the aisle. A couple more walked with halting steps, as if they were starting on a long trip that would require extra reserves of energy.
“This reminds me of The Chosen,” I thought. “Just ordinary people following an extraordinary God.”
That is the truth. We so often go searching for the big-name expert or superhuman hero to energize our lives when it’s those ordinary people in front of us who will help nurture us on our journey.
That became evident at the closing ceremonies of the men’s event and the women’s two weeks later.
Each newcomer approached the podium with the small group they spent much of the weekend with; many choked back tears as they talked about the impact of spending time with God—and their new best friends.
One woman who apparently talked incessantly throughout the weekend sparked raucous laughter when she reached the front and said, “It may be hard to believe, but I’m speechless.”
She went on to explain that the demonstrations of servanthood and love she had seen for 72 hours had convinced her of God’s love for her.
I formed another strong impression as the finale wrapped up: the inestimable value of community. God designed us to live in community, which we’re still trying to recover from the pandemic.
Fortunately, life is resuming a sense of normalcy after the exhausting interruptions of 2020-21. Yet, too many groups—whether Christian or not—are grappling with persuading former adherents to return.
That is sad. It is only when we come together that we can support, encourage, and spur each other on.
This is why Paul counseled: “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25).
Those words have never been truer nearly 21 centuries after they were written.