Lately, there I’ve heard and read quite a bit about community. It’s becoming a piece of popular culture as would-be gurus are telling us how we can build “community” to sell products, how we can harness the power of social media and communities, and how relationships are strengthened (or weakened) by digital media. Shucks, I’ve even thought a little about how I might benefit if I could create community.
To be sure, there is always a buck to be made by somebody who figures out how to “work the system.” But these miss the point of community. Community – true community – is a gift from God and flows from him. While we can create infrastructure to facilitate community, we can’t actually create community.
We were created in the image of God – a Triune God who has existed since before eternity in community with himself (Genesis 1:26). In his image, we were created and put into right relationship with God, with each other, and with all of creation. But when we fell from grace because of our sin, we lost that right relationship.
Since that time, we have been unable to live in right relationship – in right community with each other. It is because of sin that we have wars and selfishness and oppression, fear and self-protection, lying, cheating, and stealing. It is because of sin that all of our best efforts to build community (even the selfless efforts of idealists) fall short.
It is only through the work of God in our lives that we can begin to live out true community. When we accept the gift of God through Jesus of Nazareth we can begin to be open and honest, living in the light of God’s Holy Spirit in relationship with each other and without fear (1 John 1:7).
Cherish community and defend it vehemently. It is a gift from God.