Biblical Foundations for Community

Description

Since God has made us in His image and likeness, we have been created for community with Him and with each other.

In the wider cosmic story of Scripture, salvation is not an end, but the necessary means to overcome the relational alienation with God, ourselves, others, and nature that was caused by the tragic introduction of sin. God is a relational being whose costly gift of salvation made it possible for our sinful condition of estrangement to be overcome so that we could enjoy a relationship with Him as beloved children rather than condemned outsiders.

The mystery we call God is a community of being: the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that flows between Them. This Trinitarian vision of the One and the Many, the Unity in Diversity, the Three in One, is found only in the Bible. In the progress of revelation, the Old Testament lays the foundation for the fuller expression of the three-person God of the New Testament. It has been said, “The Old is in the New revealed; the New is in the Old concealed.” The plural pronouns (“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” [Genesis 1:26]; “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language” [Genesis 11:7]), as well as a variety of other passages that distinguish the Persons of God (e.g., Yahweh and Adonai in Psalm 110:1; the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man in Daniel 7:9-14), point to the New Testament mystery of God as one essence who subsists as three eternal and co-equal Persons.

Since God made us in His image and likeness, we have been created for community with Him and with one another. The Bible is unique in its portrayal of God as a covenant maker and keeper. As we enter into the benefits of the new covenant through the blood of Christ (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Luke 22:20), we become members of a new community that is called to reflect the glory of the Godhead in its corporate unity (John 17:22-26). The two greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31), and the clearest expression of our love for God is our love for others (1 John 4:7, 11, 20-21). In effect, our Lord tells us, “If you love Me, you will love the people I love.”

The devastating consequence of the fall in Genesis 3 was the fourfold alienation from God, ourselves, others, and nature. For those in Christ, a significant healing has begun on each of these levels, but it will not be complete until the redemption of our body and the redemption of the created order (Romans 8:19-23). In this both-and tension between the now and the not yet, we who have been renewed in Christ have already become new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). God’s redemptive plan is to restore relationships on every level—with God, self, others, and creation—so that we will experience and express the shalom (peace, love, unity, harmony) of the Trinity. We have been transferred from a hypostasis (substance or essence) of biological existence to a hypostasis of ecclesial existence. In the new birth, we are no longer identified with natural necessity but with the freedom of the life of Christ in communion with God and with the community of faith.

Taken from Ken Boa's Handbook to Spiritual Growth

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