The film Lars and the Real Girl is one of the strongest proponents of the need for community I have seen in quite a while. For those who have yet to see it, Lars suffers from the delusion that his mail order, custom assembled, plastic doll is his girlfriend whom he’s in love with. Through the course of the movie you learn of “Bianca’s” past, which is startlingly like Lars’ because she actually “is” Lars. The part about the film that touched me the most was how Lars’ community: his brother and his brother’s wife, his coworkers and their spouses and friends and his church immediately respond with respect, kindness, tactfulness and love to Lars and his girlfriend, Bianca. This has deep application to our own lives, especially related to those in our community who are “strange” or have serious problems.
The need for community that goes above and beyond what is “normal” for it’s members is what the body of Christ should be. In the middle of the film, Lars brother Gus and his wife Karin, go to a meeting with a few of the members of their church to explain their and Lars’ situation. Nearly every one at the meeting has something to say about how Lars is acting ridiculous, crazy, or as something else all together. Interrupting one of the members tirades, the pastor says something like “I only have one thing to say, and I say it all the time: What would Jesus do?”
While seeming trite and rather comical at the moment, the pastor encapsulated the meaning of community as well as making it clear how each member should respond to Lars. Through the love that each member shares throughout the film, Lars begins to understand that he is loved, and the delusion fades.
What is it about love that is so hard for many of us to practice in community? How are we responding to those at the fringes (Lars and his church or coworkers), and those who are close (Lars and his brother.) What can we do to create a loving atmosphere for those who truly having something wrong with them? And how can we love ourselves to prevent things like that happening to us on small and large scales?