I am a fan of Apple. I run with an iPod, am writing this on an iMac, talk on an iPhone, and listen to music on iTunes. I love their discipline and relentless focus, their simplicity, and their excellent products. They are known for delivering on their promises.
But with all the connectivity they promise, they could never deliver on the promise of true community. When the new iPhone 5 was recently announced, the New Yorker ran a satirical article poking fun at the inability of technology to replace our longing for community.
I am not anti-technology, but while people are more and more connected, some are simultaneously more and more alone. Connectivity fails to deliver or fill the longing for true community. And people long for community because God wired us for it.
Throughout the biblical narrative, we see community emphasized. In the garden, God graciously gave us community with others. Sin distorted our relationships, resulting in hostility with one another (Gen. 3:15), but God continued to establish community for His people with the forming and adoption of Israel (Gen. 12). Jesus launched and continues to build a new community of people redeemed by His grace–the church (Matt. 16). And in the end, we see an eternal gathering of believers united through the blood of Christ (Rev. 21:3-4).
As believers, we were created to live in community with other believers. Community built on the grace of God matures us, corrects us, and motivates us to live worthy of our calling. But community is very different from connectivity.
Connectivity is easy. Community is hard.
Connectivity is instant. Community takes time.
Connectivity allows you to stay on the surface. Community forces you deeper.
Connectivity allows you to be who you want people to think you are. Community exposes you for who you really are…and lovingly leads you to repentance.
Churches must not take the easy road and settle for connectivity. They must help through preaching and nudging their people to live in community with other believers. The church can offer you what Apple cannot–opportunities to be changed by the community that surrounds you.