So, in January 2006 I took a trip to Israel. While there, I had the opportunity to sleep in the volunteer lounge at a kibbutz (קיבוץ) in the Galilee region. The lounge itself was easily the most disgusting place I’ve ever stayed the night. However, the actual concept of “kibbutz” is something I think modern Christianity can learn from. As a matter of fact, one of the emails I sent home during that trip stated:
There is something rolling around in my head about faith, relationships, and the Jewish kibbutz system. Revelation is close, but there’s still a missing piece. once I find it, I’ll post it on my blog
Well, revelation wasn’t that close; it’s now a year down the road and I’m just getting around to this! Oddly enough, I expect this to be a pretty short paper.
Anyway, let me start off with some links explaining what a Kibbutz is:
Oddly enough, that “missing piece” I mentioned last year comes from the Jewish Virtual Library (JVL) article:
Based on the voluntary participation of its members, the kibbutz is a communal society which assumes responsibility for its members’ needs throughout their lives. It is a society that strives to allow individuals to develop to their fullest potential, while demanding responsibility and commitment from each person to contribute to the welfare of the community.
Compare this statement with Acts 2:42-45:
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
While kibbutzim (plural form of “Kibbutz”) are a modern phenomenon, I cannot help but think the concept is very similar to what the Apostles had in mind. Look again at the JVL article: “It is a society that strives to allow individuals to develop to their fullest potential, while demanding responsibility and commitment from each person to contribute to the welfare of the community.” It is a very difficult balance to meet both individual and communal needs, but it can be done. Life is not a selfish pursuit, but we are also not to neglect personal growth. Neglecting self hurts the community, neglecting the community hurts self. Only by uplifting one another, and allowing ourselves to be uplifted equally, can we spread the Gospel. Otherwise, we’re just a dysfunctional family.