Consider the word community.
Community is not a human invention. It is not a mere social phenomenon. Community is God’s dearest creation. It is only within community that there is the possibility of knowing and being known, loving and being loved, serving and being served, celebrating and being celebrated.
Because God is community—Father, Son, and Spirit in oneness of being—he creates community. It flows from who he is. When God created the first being, he astoundingly declared his creation to be “not good” because it was solitary; so he created a partner. God’s supreme achievement was not the creation of a solitary man but the creation of human community.
However, because of sin, God’s ideal of community often seemed to have been lost. Many times, it hung only by a thin thread of hope. If God were a quitter, it might have ended altogether. But over the rubble of failed human community stands the towering form of the cross.
The very shape of the cross suggests the two main transactions that were effected through it. The upright post stands for the restoration of our community with God. God reached down from the holiness of his transcendence above, into the abyss of our human need in order to reconcile us to himself, through Christ. It reflects God’s forgiving grace extended to receptive sinners. But the vertical trunk itself does not make a cross; it also requires a crossbar. The arms of Jesus were stretched on that horizontal beam, and his servant hands nailed to it. His extended arms reach out from the crossbar to all who want reconciliation with God in order that we may also be reconciled to one another, forming one body in his embrace of love.
Perfect community is to be found at the intersection of the two segments of the cross, where those who are reconciled with God are reconciled together—where we love God with all we have and we love our neighbor as ourselves. It is where we learn to care and share, to challenge and support, to confide and confess, to forgive and be forgiven, to laugh and weep, to be accountable to each other, to watch over each other, to be servants together. It is the place of transformation.
Community. It alone will survive from this world into the next. Then God’s dream will be fulfilled when the church is eternally united as a bride to her husband in the Savior’s embrace of redemptive love.
Will you be a part of building God’s dream? —GILBERT BILEZIKIAN
John Ortberg, Laurie Pederson, and Judson Poling, Groups: The Life-Giving Power of Community (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).
We have just released a new Bible study on the topic: Love One Another.
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