In thinking about an ideal community (and I'm not referring now to the New Jerusalem that's to come, but an ideal community on this side of existence), of course we have to try to find the vision in Jesus and from Scripture. We also witness, by trial and error, God's work and our participation, or lack thereof, in this. And what seems to help and not help each other in realizing and fulfilling God's call for us here and now.
What I'd like to focus on here is authenticity. I have to wonder if we really want our lives to be exposed for what they are, both in community as church at our gatherings, and in virtual community as bloggers. The ones who know our struggles best are those at home. Part of being at home is to be able to be more ourselves, yet accepted through that, as well as challenged to overcome weaknesses and sins, and grow.
Each of us, in Jesus, has a great capacity for goodness. (And really every member of the human race has this, as well, being made in the image of God, eikons of God, even as cracked eikons). But we also have a great capacity to express the old person in Adam. Characteristics that are not good in God's eyes, and often not good in anyone's eyes.
I struggle in some things at certain times and periods of my life. I have struggled in the past, and haven't done well. Though God in his grace kept me from disaster (only God's grace). I have my down times when it would be nice if, like a machine in danger of meltdown, it would simply automatically shut off. But a person does not.
This is when we need to grab for all the help we can get from God and from others. And we need to seek to be on the lookout for how we can spot and assist others who may be struggling and even failing.
The ideal community here and now does not come across as a perfect group of people who have it all together. On the contrary. The ideal community, in Jesus, are those who realize they do not. That they are not where they want to be. And that they are not always heading in the right direction. That maybe some one is sidetracked into something damaging to them. And maybe another has been drifting away from their faith. And maybe another is struggling in some temptation or another.
So the ideal community is a community that realizes that Christ-likeness comes only as we deal with ourselves as we really are. In the light of God's word/Scripture, by the help of the Holy Spirit, within the community of God in Christ. I don't grow in becoming like Jesus by coming across to everyone as "Mr. Saint". But I do so, only by facing my sins, issues and problems as they really are. Bringing them to God, and at times, bringing them to the community I am a part of. As we pray and confess, and bless one another's prayers and confessions, and pray for each other, than we can see the kind of change that we all need.
One last note. We can't pour out our complete ugliness just to anyone and everyone. Ultimately God is the one who can bear all we carry. But others in God can bear something of what we carry. And thus help us with our load.
Have you experienced this kind of community? What obstacles prevent it from happening? What should those do who believe in it?