How to build a community using Grace
Let’s see if I can’t salvage a lesson from that horrible (but oh so JUST AS PLANNED) joke that ended in the creation of an epic animéblogger meme :3
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
-John 21:15-19 (NIV)
(I know the whole FAKE DRAMA was all an elaborate prank, but I’ll take it as if it really happened for the purpose of this post.) What Jesus here is doing is forgiving Paul of his sins and reinstating him as one of the Apostles. He didn’t have to do that, if one follows conventional wisdom.
Prior to this, the apostle Peter had earlier denied being one of the12 Apostles after Jesus’ arrest. Jesus noticed that and glared mournfully at him.
Conventional wisdom tells us to kick out someone who does something wrong or betrays your trust. Or for more trivial reasons, like not liking what you like. Even if the person seems remorseful.
I understand that if people have done wrong, they need to be punished. However, we are all too prone to take it too far. And usually, we do. What’s worse is that we have the most effective dehumanizing tool to do it with: The Internet. No one really cares about the fact that behind the monitor, there’s a living, breathing human being.
It’s rather annoying to know that distance and technology usually softens and sometimes eliminates the impact of major events like disasters. It gets worse when people exploit this fact to do what they think is right on the Internet.
Still, it doesn’t mean we all should follow the example of the masses.
It does not matter if you’re the leader or just a general nobody in the community. Whoever offended you, you have to forgive the individual if he or she has realized that they are in the wrong and seek forgiveness. It’s a much bigger emphasis if you’re doing your best to build a community.
Why is that?
People want to feel wanted, to belong, etc. Being part of a community makes people feel like they belong. To be booted out of a community that they feel that they belong is like a crushing realization that all is not well. They go to any lengths to get back into the fold. Unfortunately, it does not always work, and they are forced to look for other groups to socialize.
Worse still is the fact that no one likes being kicked out of a group. Being booted out means that no one likes them and wants them out (as is most of the cases on the Internet). This is not just detrimental to your group but to the other group since discord can be sewn in the other group that the poor guy joins.
However, forgiveness is just one part of building a community. Acceptance is the other thing that must be practised.
Like I said before, people want to feel accepted, to feel like they belong. It is also imperative that all members of the community are ready to accept any new member that comes in, regardless of writing style, general disposition, favorite perversions and so on. True, there might be some quirk that makes the community feel that the new guy might not fit in, but that’s a personal concern, not a community concern.
Hey, it’s hard living in a world that praises revenge than grace, but that doesn’t mean we should follow. If it makes you a better person, I say it’s worth it.
To sum it up, to build a community with grace, 2 things must be done:
- Forgive the member who has offended the community and reinstate his or her place in the community.
- Accept any new member into the community in the hope that he or she will improve the community.
Entry filed under: Week of love.