Abraham Piper has been posting on an interview with Paul Tripp on the Desiring God blog. Paul Tripp wrote the best book I read on raising teens (The Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens). Here are some highlights from a May 21 post on biblical community:
What is the greatest hindrance to cultivating community in the American church?
The first thing that comes to mind is frenetic western-culture busyness.
I read a book on stress a few years back, and the author made a side comment that I thought was so insightful. He said that the highest value of materialistic western culture is not possessing. It's actually acquiring.
If you're a go-getter you never stop. And so the guy who is lavishly successful doesn't quit, because there are greater levels of success. "My house could be bigger, I could drive better cars, I could have more power, I could have more money."
And so we've bought an unbiblical definition of the good life of success. Our kids have to be skilled at three sports and play four musical instruments, and our house has to be lavish by whatever standard. And all of that stuff is eating time, eating energy, eating money. And it doesn't promote community.
...I've talked to a lot of families who literally think it's a victory to have 3 or 4 meals all together with one another in a week, because they're so busy. Well, if in that family unit they're not experiencing community, there's no hope of them experiencing it outside of that family unit.
...You can't fit God's dream (if I can use that language) for his church inside of the American dream and have it work. It's a radically different lifestyle. It just won't squeeze into the available spaces of the time and energy that's left over.
...We have sold our four-bedroom house because our kids are gone, and we've bought a loft in Chinatown, Philadelphia. And we're amazed at how simple our life has become. We're grieving over how we let our life get so complicated.
...We're living in a much smaller place. We got rid of most of our stuff. As we went through it, we laughed about how we just collected stuff. All that stuff has to be maintained. It grabs your heart, it grabs your schedule, it grabs your time. It becomes a source of worry and concern and need to pay.
So we've just been confronted with how all of those things that aren't evil in themselves become the complications of life that keep us away from the kind of community that we need in order to hold on to our identity.