Theology of Community

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”.

John 17:20-21

I find myself praying over and over again that God would allow me to grow in my sanctification. I’ve prayed so often that He would allow me to reflect the image of His Son through my words and actions that day. But what does that even mean? What are ways we reflect the image of God on a day to day basis?

In John 17, Jesus prays for us. That’s in verse 20, when he prays for “those who will believe in me through their word.” Here’s what Jesus prayed for you and for me: that we would be unified, just like Jesus and His Father are, with the purpose that the world would believe that Jesus sent us.

Communal Nature

Our God is a communal God. He is three-in-one. He is triune. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one God. So when God created man in His image, He created us with a need to have community. He made us communal beings, after Himself. It explains why we have an intense desire to fit into a group or community, why the thoughts of spending a lifetime alone scares most of us, why isolation is viewed as a form of punishment, and why most of us feel happy when we are in community with others of a like mind. Our need for community is an attribute of God that is in our nature because He created us in His own image.

God-like Community

Since we are created in the image of God and God is a communal being, when we live in community with each other we are best reflecting the image of God. When we fulfill one of our most base desires, having community, within the church we have an opportunity to show the world what God is like. This is what Jesus prayed for. He prayed that we would be unified like He and the Father are, and because of our community the gospel would be spread.

Living It Out

We all know the person. He or she is the one that bounces around from boyfriend to boyfriend or girlfriend to girlfriend for about a year. Then after that year, they’re single for a really long stretch. And we all think what? “Well, I’m glad they’re single for a bit, because they just need to find themselves before they go date somebody else.” You can’t deny it. We’ve all thought it. The problem is we’ve let this thinking into how we choose our relationships within the church.

Either we jump from community to community looking for whatever it is that day, don’t find it, and move on. And then when we get tired of searching we think we need figure ourselves out before we can enjoy community within the church. Or we’re the ones that let those people suffer alone and a way from community as they find themselves or we’re the reason they felt like they weren’t welcome in our community. Neither of those options are a reflection of the image of Christ.

So what about your community? How are you reflecting the image of God? How are we enjoying being together like the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit? Do our relationships lead the world to think that God sent us?

Relationships and community are what Jesus prayed for. It’s a desire instilled in us from the very beginning of time when man was created in the image of God. But are our relationships and community within the church a reflection of the unity of God Himself? And are they a reason the world knows that God sent us?

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