Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, November 24, 2012

CommUNITY (1)

The term community has a two rather poignant meanings, community and society, each can be said to refer to a group sharing a common understanding and often the same language, manners, tradition and law. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks, and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness. This cohesiveness is paramount in defining the unity of said community. I find it rather pregnant that the word 'unity' is at the end of community.

As I have moved about in various Christian communities,  it has become apparent that 'unity' is not only representative of what is unattainable in the Church, but also the trigger for dissent and disunity. The discussion of 'unity' is more divisive than the results of conversant parties. In our efforts to define the Church community and gain the respect and admiration of the world by our brotherhood we have become divided over the very issue by which we should be joined.

I move around in various circles of influence, those that are work related and those that are recreationally related. Within the other networks of community I have noticed that the common thread of that community is tied to either an activity or a pursuit. We build our careers around the specialization needed to achieve our personal goals and aspirations, this follows suit with those who are like minded in our profession's. Within that context we are a community, our recreational activities are not part and parcel of how we are defined within the context of that community.

On the other side, my recreational pursuits enjoin me to a different community, one which is impartial to what I pursue as a professional. We come together as a brotherhood providing encouragement and a mutual admiration and respect for each others efforts within that recreation. We all come from a diverse professional background which has little if no influence upon our recreational pursuit. That is how community is defined, by what unites us not that which divides.

Psalm 133:1;
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

Within my profession and recreational activities there is an allowance for personal creative ability to be shown. Each community recognizes and respects that creative input. The 'I' in each individual is expressed within the context of that community, it does not divide the community, it in fact, is the essence of what defines the community and in that very sense the community's unity is affirmed.

It seems to me that within the Church, it is the 'I' in each individual being inappropriately expressed by the desires of each to have a personal creative influence on what the Church should be and how the Church should look that is responsible for lack of unity within the Church. This 'I' which exists is detrimental in establishing the Church as was intended by God, in being 'wholly one'.

Community is described as an association in which individuals are oriented to the large association as much as, if not more than, to their own self-interest. Furthermore, individuals in community are regulated by common mores or beliefs about the appropriate behavior and responsibility of members of the association, to each other and to the association at large; associations are marked by "unity of will"
In contrast, society describes associations in which, for the individual, the larger association never takes precedence over the individuals self-interest, and these associations lack the same level of shared mores. A social group is maintained through individuals acting in their own self-interest.

As was stated in the opening definition, it is the affecting of each individuals identity which is of utmost importance in achieving and maintaining the cohesiveness of community.
John 17:21-23
"...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

This affectation of the deepest sense and belief in community upon each individual must be imbibed by a greater influence than that of their own personal agenda. The developed sense of unity must be overridden by any personal sense of identity apart from the community of believers. Hence the issue with unity in the Church, especially in our Western Culture where the 'I am a rock' mindset is still prevalent in society (a carefully placed use of the word). It would appear that the prayer for unity by Jesus has been impotent in effect, but the crisis may not be with the individual believer, but the leadership of the Church, more specifically, the leading of the Church living in affluence.

Ephesians 4:11-16
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love."

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