I have been thinking about this question as raised by Matt Stone in his blog post with the same heading.
He says this:
"Is your experience of Christian community so distinctive that it
genuinely stands out from other social experiences? Are your
non-Christian social networks so much less loving towards one another in
comparison." And I ask this with scepticism because, honestly, mine is
not. Sometimes the experience has been wonderful, sometimes less so, but
even when it's been the former rather than the latter, rarely has it
been that exceptional.
I've kept this post in my reader until I had time to write about it, so it is from a while back. Just at that time I decided to address some definite disunity in one of my churches. And I felt that Matt had a point. This church community is pulling in multiple directions and struggling to find focus. Perhaps it is a depressing example of Christian unity.
But it dawned on me that this is actually the exact point of community and loving each other. We don't give up. We don't despair at the different perspectives and different maturity levels and other differences that lead to conflict. Rather we are committed to one another come what may. And that is what loving each other means and what makes Christian community. It is nice when we all agree and can have a wonderful time together in each others company. But true community is when we persevere together through the conflict and difficult odds.
I sometimes despair of this community that I serve, but I admire them for the incredible tenacity that they show in keeping going.