WARNING: This post contains theological concepts that may be unsuitable for people who are unwilling to think or have their basic presuppositions challenged.
In case you were wondering:
You were created to live in community.
I’m not talking about your subdivision (which, if you think about it, ”sub-division” is the opposite of “comm-unity,” isn’t it?).
I’m talking about living in a unified relationship with others.
1. You were created to live in community with God.
God Himself lives in the eternal relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit – a “composite unity” (or community) Christian theologians have labeled the ”Trinity” (tri-unity); i.e., three Persons/one Godhead.
From this eternal Community, God created man to mirror His own image (Imago Dei) within new and divinely established communities.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…” (Gen 1:26a, emphasis mine).
The eternal Community of God created people to have a relationship with Himself. In the beginning, God walked among people “in the cool of the day” (cf. Gen 3:8) and enjoyed a perfect relationship with them. “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31a).
2. You were created to live in community with other people.
This was God’s design from the beginning: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone…’” (Gen 2:18a).
Now think about that for a minute. Man already had a perfect community between himself and God, so he was not “alone” in the sense of spiritual or social isolation.
Man was “alone” in the sense that he didn’t have a relationship with other people like himself. So God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him…” (Gen 2:18b).
No doubt some will argue that God’s sole intent for man’s earthly community was to be that between a husband and wife, however, after establishing a marital community, God immediately instructed Adam & Eve: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth…” (Gen 1:28).
Thus, God’s original design included more than a marriage — it included a global community.
Consider the fact that the community of marriage is temporary (“until death do us part”) but the community between people is eternal.
Jesus explicitly states, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage” (Matt 22:30a).
So mankind will exist, yet marriage will be abolished. What then will remain?
- The community between God and man, and
- The community between people.
Consider John’s vision of heaven: “I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb … And they cried out in a loud voice: ’Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb…’” (Rev 7:9,10, emphasis mine).
At the conclusion of God’s redemptive plan stands a holy city wherein God and man live together … in community.
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 21:3-4).
The great tragedy of the human condition is that sin destroyed the community God intended for man to live in.
Through the ages, history reveals the destruction of every form of community: (1) Man’s relationship with God has degraded to a pluralistic quagmire of spiritual nonsense ranging from Atheism (there is no God) to Gnosticism (you’re a god) to Hinduism (there are millions of gods) to anything and everything in-between. (2) War and violence have marked human relationships since the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gen 4). Death and destruction monopolize our headlines and, sadly, even our “entertainment” industry. (3) The community of marriage has deteriorated to the point that the majority of marriages end in divorce and our society can’t even agree on it’s basic definition: the union between a man and a woman (cf. Gen 2:24).
Jesus came to reestablish community.
The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to reestablish community with God and community with each other. Is it any surprise that the most widely practiced Christian ordinance is “Communion?” (Hello-o? Anybody paying attention here?) You were created to live in community!
The reestablishment of community is a defining characteristic of biblical Christianity.
Evangelicalism has done a pretty good job at helping people understand the significance of Christ’s death in restoring our relationship with God. Only through the shed blood of Christ is our sin removed and community with God made possible.
Unfortunately, we have failed miserably in helping people understand the significance of Christ’s death in restoring our relationships with each other.
Faith is largely considered a “personal matter” and society at large has imposed both formal and informal boundaries making it unacceptable for people to talk openly about their faith in Christ. “You can believe whatever you want … but don’t talk about it to others.”
I propose that this mindset is demonic in origin and is intended to thwart the reestablishment of community through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is nearly impossible to read the Bible without seeing the recurring theme of community, yet we’ve managed to ignore it in favor of an individualistic, internalized, hyper-spiritualized, esoteric religious experience; which is the exact opposite of what Jesus intended.
It is now and has always been about community:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17, emphasis mine).
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35, emphasis mine).
- “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3, emphasis mine: note that both forms of community are referenced in this verse).
- “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness” (1 John 2:9, emphasis mine).
- “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20, emphasis mine).
- “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23, emphasis mine).
- “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:5-6, emphasis mine).
- “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Col 3:12-14, emphasis mine).
I realize this post is longer than a blog is supposed to be, but I have barely scratched the surface on the matter. The bottom line is that you were created for community: (1) with God, and (2) with other people.
Jesus Christ came to make community possible and anything less falls short of God’s plan for your life.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about community. I promise you can agree, disagree, contribute or critique without hurting my feelings.
Join the conversation…