The family is . . . like a little kingdom, and, like most other little kingdoms, is generally in a state of some thing resembling anarchy. (G. K. Chesterton)
Chesterton could have been talking about a little fellowship (our true family, because it is the family of God). It is a royal mess. I will not whitewash this. It is disruptive. Going to church with hundreds of other people to sit and hear a sermon doesn’t ask much of you. It certainly will never expose you. That’s why most folks prefer it. Because community will. It will reveal where you have yet to become holy, right at the very moment you are so keenly aware of how they have yet to become holy. It will bring you close and you will be seen and you will be known, and therein lies the power and therein lies the danger. Aren’t there moments when all those little companies, in all those stories, hang by a thread? Galadriel says to Frodo, “Your quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.”
We’ve experienced incredible disappointments in our fellowship. We have, every last one of us, hurt one another. Sometimes deeply. Last year there was a night when Stasi and I laid out a vision for where we thought things should be going—our lifelong dream for redemptive community. We hoped the Company would leap to it with loud hurrahs. “Hurrah for John and Stasi!” Far from it. Their response was more on the level of blank stares. Our dream was mishandled—badly. Stasi was sick to her stomach; she wanted to leave the room and throw up. I was . . . stunned. Disappointed. I felt the dive toward a total loss of heart. The following day I could feel my heart being pulled toward resentment. Its moments like these that usually toll the beginning of the end for most attempts at community.
(Waking the Dead, John Eldredge 197-198)