I saw The Avengers last night. It was a remarkable movie - extremely entertaining, funny, heartfelt. I was surprised at just how well it was crafted. Today I was watching some interviews with the cast and the director, Joss Whedon. There are some major themes in the movie about the concepts of working together as a team and how flawed individuals can still do amazing things. Whedon was expounding on some of that. He said that in today's world - with the society and economy disintegrating - community is so important. It is crucial. A real man is not defined by the masculine macho stuff he does. He earns esteem by his willingness to live in, serve, and be a part of community.
I've been thinking on this issue for a while now. Our church is big on community. That is one of their core values. On Sunday, our pastor preached on Gideon. He talked about how one of Gideon's biggest flaws was his desire to pull away from others. First, he was isolated due to his apparent weakness. Then, he was isolated due to his success. Pastor Isaac said, "The community will be a blessing to the person who is willing to be a part of the community." He also made several excellent points about how we cannot allow ourselves to put ourselves above the group. We are in this together.
This is not a popular concept in today's world. Well, at least not in America. We consider privacy a God given right. We put our best foot forward. We don't cry out loud. We hold it inside and learn how to hide our feelings. That was never the plan, though. God created us for intimate (close) relationships with Himself and others. We were supposed to be involved with those around us. It was not good for man to be alone. That didn't just mean when it came to marriage. It was a truth about mankind. It isn't good to be alone. Bad things happen when you have to live alone. In movies, you get eaten by the mythical beast. In life, you get eaten by, well, life.
As I've been reading through Exodus and Leviticus. (What? You don't read Leviticus for fun? Who needs 50 Shades of Grey. Go read Leviticus 18.) It has hit me time and again how we were never intended to live life alone and in private. The sacrifices for the nation of Israel were not private. They were out in public in front of all kinds of people. When you had to get something right, it was in the blazing light of day. When you move to the Early Church, things aren't any different. We are told to confess our sins to one another, bear each other's burdens, and share in the journey together. That group of believers had everything in common. I don't think that was just money. It was their whole lives.
I know in my own life I have to go through major trauma or intense struggle before I open up. Shoot, I routinely won't write blog posts on here because I'm worried what people will think. But that isn't healthy. It isn't right. One, I then force myself into an isolating position I shouldn't be in. But two, I also rob others of the encouragement they may be needing in just that moment. How many times have I been struggling with something, only to see a post or a Facebook status or hear a sermon on that issue? Maybe I'm supposed to be that help for someone else. Instead, fear and pride shut me down again. And who is better off from that?
In the movie, nothing could be accomplished until all those broken, severely screwed up people put their own issues aside and agreed to work together. They had to realize that as embarrassing or terrifying it would be to trust someone else, it was the only right choice. We need to come to that point. We are all messed up. We all have issues and struggles. Not a one of us is above help or beyond it. Let's start working together on living life the right way. (Now if I was cheesier, I would try to make some clever twist on Avengers Assemble. But I'm not going to fall into that trap.)