Arriving at Project is kind of like the first day of college.
Everyone is pretty hyper, music is blaring, chaos ensues, and somewhere out of the abyss comes a total stranger who rushes toward you and emphatically declares, “Hey! I’m going to be your room leader this summer!”
It’s pretty weird.
I mean, how does someone even respond to that?
Because the odds are pretty high that this is the first time you’ve ever met this person.
But wait, it gets weirder.
In college, you can spend the entire nine months simply coexisting with your roommate. A lot of people settle for getting along; they don’t actually become very close friends.
Project is different.
It’s two months of extreme intentionality. People want to go very deep very quickly. The cool thing is, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, we are part of a family and has a common thread that binds us. In John 19:25-27, Jesus looks at his mother and John and says, “Woman, behold, your son!” and “Behold your mother!” Biological lines are blurred in the kingdom; we all, as children of God, are part of one family.
That being said, there is legitimacy for bypassing months of groundwork that is normally laid in a friendship. While it may normally take time to find commonalities that bind friends together, we already have that in Christ.
So when roommates talk about deep struggles or broken pasts within the first week of knowing each other, it’s not that strange….
….which is kind of strange.
I talked to Lou Messina and David Cook, both room leaders this summer, about this topic to see if I am the only one who feels this way.
“Yeah, it’s definitely more comfortable right off the bat,” said Lou, “We all come in with the mentality of ‘we WILL get along’ because you know your room is a community and these are people you’re going to be turning to and growing with throughout the summer. That’s just not true for college, necessarily. It’s more freeing and less scary at Project because you have that bond in Christ but there is more pressure to interact well and deal with conflict rather than avoid it. But even that is good.”
“You do so many things together as a room,” he started, “There is a lot more structure at Project, and a lot of that structured time is spent with your roommates. You have intentional time to be together. That’s basically the expectation everyone has coming in, and knowing you’re going to be sharing experiences and growing together changes the vibe of the room right away.”
You see? There is something unique and beautiful about community in Christ. It actually is possible to be different and deep right away because of our bond as children of God. The following quote sums it up well. It’s by Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book Life Together:
“What determines our brotherhood is what that man is by reason of Christ. Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. This is true not merely at the beginning, as though in the course of time something else were to be added to our community; it remains so for all the future and to all eternity. I have community with others and I shall continue to have it only through Jesus Christ. The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us. We have one another only through Christ, but through Christ we do have one another, wholly, for eternity.”