WHY WE SHOULD LIVE IN COMMUNITIES
A Christian couple, Dave and Neta Jackson, wrote a book called Living Together in a World Falling Apart about their experience of living with another couple. They had decided to live in a community because they "were concerned about the emphasis on material things and the lack of community spirit so prevalent in our society." They tried to be as everyone else was -- "independent and self-sufficient. Materially, we did our best not to need anyone else. We'd been struggling through many of our problems alone, afraid to admit our weaknesses or to ask for help. We had to keep up an image of strength and self-sufficiency. We didn't involve our friends in our real concerns, and they didn't involve us."
When they had their first child, Neta stayed home, and it was hard financially. Neta "discovered that big doses of loneliness and isolation came along with the joys of motherhood. She missed the stimulation of the people at her office, the new ideas, the events, and the creative challenge of writing. When I'd come home at night she'd milk me for the details of the day so that she could have at least some vicarious involvement with the outside world. I got tired of doing instant replays."
"One other thing was getting to us -- the fear of irrelevance. As evangelicals ... we wanted to live out our faith." They wanted to live the example of the "city on the hill." They found another couple to share a big farmhouse. "The most immediate joy for Neta, and Jan, too, was the companionship during the day.... it was like another planet. They shared the household chores and cooking, took turns babysitting so the other could have free time, helped each other keep perspective on the minor tragedies of a baby's first year, spent time each day just talking and sharing as two adults."
"It had an immediate effect on our marriage relationship. Instead of coming home to a frustrated, tearful wife, I usually found Neta relaxed and happy. Instead of having to pick up the pieces of her day, we could create and share an evening together."
"Not long after we moved together, Gary and I were standing on the back porch steps, making plans for a vegetable garden the next spring, when suddenly Gary said, 'You know, Dave, there's a real security in joining our lives together. I mean, if that old furnace in the basement blows up, it's not just my problem, it's our problem. That just takes a big load off my mind.'"
"He was right. I felt it too: the freedom of knowing that we were in this together .... We began to learn what it takes to open ourselves, to get beyond the shell where we live so much of our lives."
An interesting thing was that people felt more comfortable in coming over to this little commune: "There was something about two young families living together that made it easier, for our end, to open our home more frequently to other people; and other people found it easier to drop in on us. When Neta and I lived by ourselves, we had frequently invited students from a nearby college to come over. But they rarely came. After our move together with Jan and Gary, kids began dropping in evenings or weekends and bringing their friends. One student said, 'Before, I always thought I might be intruding on your privacy if I just dropped in. But since you're open enough to live with another couple -- well, if you're busy, I can find someone else to talk to. I don't feel awkward.'"
COMPLETED TESTAMENT AGE
Mike Craig writes, "Perhaps what inspires me most about this idea, however, is the potential to develop a daily environment for our children to experience the intensity of joyful give and take as comes only through a physically based God-centered community (remember that first weekend workshop, gathering with brothers and sisters to sing songs and share testimonies?). Although we have wandered many years in the wasteland of this 'misdirected' world, do we wish the same for our children? I believe Father has tried to teach us we can enter the direct dominion of God's love only as a community. To commune from afar, or merely 'in the spirit' appears to me insufficient. Such thinking is not the Completed Testament."