Recently some good friends of ours, Ken and Hope Nibling, took us on an adventure to one of their favorite local spots in Texas: Luckenbach. It was founded in the late 19th century, grew to a robust 492 residents by 1904, then dwindled to a handful of residents in the 1960s. In 1970 the town was listed in the newspaper: “Town, population 3, for sale.”
Luckenbach is now an unincorporated community that boasts two buildings that serve as general store, post office, and working saloon. The town also includes a humble (and infamous) country-Western music venue memorialized by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson’s song, Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love).
The town slogan based on this song caught my attention: “Luckenbach, Texas, where everybody is somebody.”
With a population of only three people, how did Luckenbach function? I imagine every resident—all three of them!—would really needed to depend on each of his fellow residents. I suspect each person held down several jobs—postal clerk, bartender, store clerk, accountant, banker, stock person, etc. Residents would have had to learn to work well together and support one another. Everybody in town must have also really known each other: the good and not so good.
How would you like to live in a community where everybody was somebody? This idea precedes Luckenbach; it goes back to the beginning. It was in the beginning that God designed, created, and breathed life into man and woman. Everyone is somebody because we are all made in His image. We are His design and we reflect the value that God, our Father, has instilled in each of us. We are somebody in His eyes.
I believe God has called us as Christ-Followers in order to build communities that reflect this somebodiness. In this kind of community each person is recognized, genuinely valued, and loved—regardless of occupation, status, money, or power. It’s a community where everyone is listened to and given time to tell their story. It’s a community where the have’s and have not’s don’t exist. Some may have less than others, but all needs are met. It’s a community where all gifts, talents, and skills are appreciated and expressed.
Above all else it’s a condemnation-free community. Forgiveness is offered freely. Sin is not ignored, but it is forgiven. Every resident in this community becomes a grace-dispenser, offering abundant grace to others because they have received grace abundantly.
What would such a community look like to you? How can you make your community look a bit more like Luckenbach today? How can you intentionally treat others to demonstrate that they really are somebody?
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2