Genesis 1:13–“in the beginning…” In the beginning, there was a relationship…there was a community. In fact, what makes Christianity what it is theologically is its emphasis on a Trinitarian view of God, in other words, there is a community concept/eternal community of the Godhead that is essential in understanding how biblical people think. As the bible begins, it reveals this Community in action: "Elohim barach", when God created or began to create, "fathering-mothering-creating" the existence we know; when the Spirit was hovering, floating, and present as creative force or dynamism encountering and transforming chaos; when we hear/recognize/expereince the Speaking God, that Word of God, that Word which was God, whose very utterance made things happen or emerge into existence…when this Eternal Word was present (see John 1 for the reference that exclaims that the Word became flesh) we get a glimpse of many things…more than one blog post can summarize…but we do "see" and behold the power of community.
It was this God, multiple in action but/and united/connected in purpose that brought humanity into reality with the mark of the "image of God." In other words, each of us were not only created for a purpose by a loving and creative God but we were created for relationship – the same dynamism and unity of purpose in the very essense of who we are that reflects the nature and character of the One we worship and serve.
It shouldn't come as a suprise with the importance of community within the DNA of the Jesus following experience that I have reflected on community in the past. I've spelled out before that community is that which experiences "ONE-ness", that expression of biblical love (“ahab”) from which we have expressed to us the one God, one flesh, mystery of unity (“they act/play as one”) dynamic. A community of Oneness is not only central to understanding of God but it is central to our understanding of relational nature of world, our lives, and God’s design for community. This is why we crave community…to be intimately involved with each other's lives…this is why you get any group of people together and eventually they try to find ways to connect – because relationships are integral to humanity. Relationships are essential to what it means to be HUMAN (not an afterthought or a result of what the bible spells out as "the fall" – Genesis 3).
Community cannot be an afterthought for followers of Jesus…in other words, we cannot continue to behave in community/ekklesia (aka "local church") as if we were defined by Genesis 3. We are a Genesis 1 and 2 people…yes, we are living with the reality of the fall, evenso, that was not God’s original intent. Redemption/Salvation isn’t about God doing a “new” thing as much as it is God restoring us to our original design. The “not good” of the opening chapters of the bible has NOT ONLY to do with essential human brokenness but also the "not good-ness" of disconnectedness. That's why it is so dangerous to say, ‘all you need is God’ – that type of thinking really is lethal. Why? Because not even God thinks like that! Even God knows that we need more than him…we need each other! When God sees "alone" what does He say? “Alone??? This is not going to work!” So God idea of life…His giving of life…includes other people – we are continually formed by God (in the Spirit and in the very image of God's incarnation in our lives through what the New Testament calls "the Body of Christ) in community with one another.
Well, now that I have THAT out of my system, let me share something more with you – you can click below and read a very good article done by the author of 1000 Gifts and the Holy Experience…15 Reasons why Community is Important (even if You've been hurt). Let me tell you honestly, in the day to day grind of life where it seems that it would be much easier to avoid problems by avoiding people, calls continues to call us into relationship…why? Not only are relationships our life-blood but they are the ONLY way God works His transformative power…He relates to us…He relates to others through us…He relates to others…God relates. Community…pray for it to be alive in your life…pray for others to see God's love in the midst of it and as it is shared. Oh, and fill your hearts and minds with more thoughts about it (read Philippians 4:8-9 to underscore that point).