The Nature of Community (1)

The Nature of Community (1)

The Nature of Community (1)Community Flowchart

1.  God, the Original Community. “Within God’s very nature is a divine rhythm or pattern of continuous giving and receiving – not only love, but also glory, honor, life… each in its fullness. Think. God the Father loves and delights in the Son. Jesus receives that love and pleases the Father. Jesus honors the Spirit and the Spirit glorifies the Others and receives love and honor back from the Others. There is never any lack.” (John Samaan). “God does not live alone. He exists only in relation. He needed to be several to be God. He needed to be several to be love.” (Louis Evely)

2. Creation, the First Community. “Jesus existed before time, matter and space. Everything was brought into being through Him, and in Him everything continues to exist, held together by Him alone. He is the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation, and in union with Him all things find their proper place. And with Christ in the center, all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe, people and things, animals and atoms, get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmony.” (Colossians 1:16-17, Message)

3. A Human Community. “… a vision of human relationships where friendship is more precious than advantage and solidarity in a common vision of human dignity more compelling than self-fulfillment.” (Paul Philibert). “I am convinced that communal life can flourish only if it exists for an aim outside of itself. Community is viable if it is the outgrowth of a deep involvement in a purpose which is other than, or above, that of being a community.”  (Bruno Bettleheim).

4. A Distracted Community. “The first sin of a community is to turn its eyes from the One who called it to life. The second sin is to find itself beautiful and to believe itself to be a source of life. If it does this, it turns away from God and begins to compromise with society and the world.  Communities which have set aside the inspiration of God to rely on their own power should know how to return humbly to demand His forgiveness.” (Jean Vanier).

5. A Compromised Community. “I had become very American in all pastoral matters of ways and means. I never wavered in my theological convictions, but I had a job to do – and I was ready to use any means at hand to do it; appeal to the consumer instincts of people, use abstract principles to unify enthusiasm, shape goals using catchy slogans, create publicity images that provide ego-enhancement.” (Eugene Peterson).

6. A Prophetic Community. “The themes of the American dream are accumulating, upscaling, status, power, consumerism, individualism and self-actualization. The themes of the homecoming future of God are justice for the poor, peace for the nations, the redemption of the people of God, a restoration of community, a renewal of creation, and a celebration of the shalom purposes of God.” (Tom Sine).

7. A Christ-Centered Community. “And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met. The whole congregation of believers was united as one – one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. They shared everything.” (Acts 2:43-45; and 4:32-35).

8. An Image of the Original Community. a. “God has revealed the mystery of the Trinity to us because it sheds light on our own makeup and the manner in which we should live out our lives, if they are to be significant and fulfilling. God does not exist as a loner or an isolated individual. Rather, there is a community within the very being of God. The life of God is of its very nature societal. God exists as a fellowship and friendship of three divine Persons. In the Trinity, each Person has his existence only in relation to the others, and it is only in existing for the others, in the process of infinite giving and receiving of love, that each one is fully Himself. Thus, The Trinity as the source and model of all personhood and community shows us that the highest perfection of a person is not self-assertion, isolation and independence, but rather openness and loving commitment to others.” (Alfons Deeken)

b. “The ethical implications of man’s Christian understanding of himself as an image of the Trinity are enormous. Since God does not exist as a lonely and isolated individual but in the loving exchange of three Persons, so man too, created in the image of the three-personal God, is at the very core of his existence a relational being. He finds his true self and becomes fully human only in a dialogic relationship of love and exchange with others.”  (Alfons Deeken)

c. “There is no more profound refutation of individualism than the fact that man is at the core of his being an image of God who is in His very essence a community. That God is a tri-personal reality is, then, the ultimate foundation and origin of all human community. God wills community for man because He Himself exists as community and has created man in His own Trinitarian image.” (Alfons Deeken).

d. “This same principle explains why Jesus Christ is so radical in His demands regarding love of neighbor. Since man is structured in the likeness of the Trinity with its interpersonal fullness of life, he is ordained to living out a life of loving communion with his fellow men at the deepest level of his being.”  (Alfons Deeken).

One Reply to “The Nature of Community (1)”

  1. Thank you for laying this out for us, Steve. A key point for me was that the origin and sustaining power of community is the pursuit of and focus on a purpose other than itself.