Tuesday, January 21, 2014
The roots of community
The Garden of Eden, by Thomas Cole
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.
The hidden power of the real church, in case you were still wondering, is the power of unity and community through making a priority of honest, open, accountable relationships – something that rings out clearly from almost every piece of post-resurrection Scripture.
Of course real churches are praise and worship churches, and engage in 24-7 prayer and all those things as well, but none of that has much effect without the bonding together in relationships, the understanding of being a community which is one in heart and mind.
At that point, where the relationships take on the quality of covenant, there is a particular strong-man-binding anointing released which has its effect on the local area. Not instantly, but incrementally over time.
The roots of community go back a long way – as far as we can go back, in fact, to the Creation, as set out in Genesis. “Then God said…” and there follows what appears to be a procession of grammatical inconsistencies. “Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness…” Then He follows it with “Let THEM rule over…all the earth.”
It isn’t the grammar that is awry, it is the concept that is difficult for us – until we remember that this is a preview of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who are plural yet one and present as different people within one triune being. We believe in one God just as much as the Muslims we share the Sainsburys lift with, but the bigger, more complex concept of God we have come to understand through knowing Jesus and the Holy Spirit is a difficult one to explain in purely human, logical terms.
God in His very nature IS community, and He saw that need for community in His creation which was made to be like Him. Gen. 2:18
The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone…”
And so community was born. Back at this earliest of first principles, we see that the independence we hold on to is not part of our original design – but relationship and community are. We are designed to relate to others and create community, and this is, simply, how it works.
As we explore this teaching further, we will see that where we do things – praying worship, evangelism, even learning from the Bible – following God’s way, i.e from no-pretence relationships and togetherness, their effectiveness becomes greatly magnified. That’s because we are following the original design.