Dallas Willard in his book, Renovation of the Heart, talks about two ways humans socially wound one another. Assault, or attacking, and withdrawal, or distancing. Reading about this kind of set off an "Aha!" for me.
God created us to be in community, and when we assault others or withdraw from them, this destroys community. Thus wounding others and perpetuating a kingdom that is not God's. I believe this has deep implications for how I live my life as a follower of Jesus and the vision that I seek in desiring God's kingdom.
One big change is that I will begin using my ipod less in public settings. For instance as I began to write this post, I was listening to music on my computer with my headphones on. I am in a coffee-shop, a public space. There are people sitting all around me. By using my headphones, I am essentially saying, "I am not interested in relating to you." This is withdrawal. So, the ipod is now for in the car or when I am alone.
Another change is the way I relate to others. How am I assaulting others and destroying community? Hopefully I am not. But I am certain I am. Do I look at others with contempt? Assault. Do I say things about people to others in a contemptible manner? Assault. Do I harbor resentment and bitterness towards others without seeking reconciliation? Assault. Unfortunately the list could go on.
Please understand the community that I think I have become aware of is not some Utopian society where all humans are really good people living in harmony. Its a community in which we are all connected through our love of God and God's love for us as evidenced in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, the kingdom of God. A place where God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. A place where individuals are valued because of their value to God, not based on their morality, bank account, appearance, or contribution to society. A place where forgiveness is shared because we are forgiven. A place where we choose community rather than withdrawal. A place where interactions are filled with God's love and not with assault.
I believe this starts with the church. How can we embody such a community? Can our hearts be (re)formed in such a way that we can live this out? I believe the answer is "Yes, we can." The question becomes will we?