For the first time in my life, I began to comprehend that the Godhead was in community within itself. Three-persons-in-one, dancing together in perfect love, relationship, and vulnerability. The speaker said “From the start of time, being made in God’s image has meant that we were made for community. We were made for each other, to share in the community of God with one-another here on earth.”
“That’s awesome!”, I thought. But as I looked around the room at the white hipsters, surfer dudes, and young professionals in the pews around me, I started to ask myself, “where are the people here who don’t look like me?” “Why is it that none of the homeless in the inner city seem to feel comfortable enough here to come on a Sunday?” “Does Christian community only include those who I want to hang out with?”
Sometimes, despite the truth and mystery of the Trinity, I feel like the church is often a place where community is not so much a dance as it is an organised march; not so much a place of fulfilling, loving relationship as it is a primary school disco where people sit on opposite sides of the room, or dances by themselves. And sometimes, even worse, the church simply offers the same plastic promises of community as the Empire, in which we only hang out with those who look like us, act like us, dress like us, and think like us. There has to be more to community than hanging out with people that are exactly like ourselves, otherwise we end up ignoring others who are different and creating a system of those who are in and those who are not. And we end up thinking one way – never being challenged to see another side of the story we call life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced incredible, welcoming, diverse community in the church, too, and ultimately imperfect people will never be as good at loving as God is. Nonetheless, I’ve heard countless stories of people who have felt excluded, ostracised, unwelcome, and too different to fit into communities that are trying to model the radical love and grace of our servant King, and that needs to be addressed.
Many of us will have heard that we are made for each other, but many of us will be asking as we get older, are we really acting like that’s true. I am captivated by the Triune God, the three-in-one in perfect community, and I would like to see us as the Body of Christ better reflecting the image we bear. Are we willing to ask the hard questions about our ‘squads’ and take up the challenge to live differently in community with others?
Jeremy Harris lives in Auckland. Jeremy is a student at Carey Baptist College, a voluntary youth coordinator, a writer and a poet. He heads up Grace Collective (young adult Anglican shenanigans). Their latest event ‘Squad’ tackled the issues Jeremy writes about here. This blog originates from www.gracecollective.wordpress.com
How does the church you belong to ‘do’ community? How is/isn’t the church faithful ‘image-bearers’?
Invite someone you wouldn’t normally invite to your place for a coffee or meal this week. Or, if that’s too scary, strike up conversations with different people you encounter as you go about your week. Simply ask to hear their story.
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