By Gordon T. Smith
“God is not a solitary being; rather, the divine being is a union of three persons bound together by the mutuality of love. In like fashion we affirm and celebrate that the human person is not a spiritual monad but a being designed to live in interdependence and communion with others. Adam was created in the image of God to be in communion with God, but Adam was not created a solitary or isolated being. Genesis 1 celebrates the deep goodness of the created order, as is evident from the recurring line ‘and God saw that it was good.’ But then we have one of the most extraordinary declarations in all of Scripture when God says of Adam that it is not good for him to be alone” (pp. 128, 129).
“The biblical vision is for the individual to thrive in community and in mutual interdependence….The deep challenge we all face…is that our hearts are bent on independence, self-sufficiency and autonomy. No one is naturally loving” (pp. 130, 132).
“Humility is the antithesis of self-dependence” (p. 134).
“Listening is the fundamental means by which we honor [each other] and fulfill the call to honor others above ourselves” (p. 139).
“If we are marked by sincere or genuine love it is evident in this: that we listen more and talk less” (p. 140).
“Hospitality also means that we do not impose ourselves upon [others] — we give them their space” (p. 140).
Patience, Forbearance, Forgiveness, and the Resolution of Wrongs
“[We] cannot love until and unless we graciously come to terms with the imperfections and failures of others….This will include at the very least that we are patient with others, that we bear with and forgive each other” (p. 141).
- “Patience is closely linked to hospitality, only now our hospitality is that of those who accept rather than demand, whose hope and aspiration for the other are not oppressive but grace-filled. We let God do God’s work in the life of the other in God’s time” (p. 141).
- “Forbearance is the twin sister of patience….This mark of compassion and generosity signals not tolerance of evil or wrongdoing but the reality that all of us are on the road to transformation…” (p. 142).
- “To forgive means we let it go; we no longer hold it again [each other]. We bless [each other] rather curse the one who has wronged us” (p. 142).
“[The] flipside of the call to patience, forbearance and forgiveness: the proactive resolution of wrongs” (p. 143).
“Specifically, to serve the other is to respond to genuine, concrete need” (p. 144).
- “First, it is important to stress that our generosity is always a generosity ‘in Christ’….
- Second, ‘in Christ’ also means that our acts are never to our own merit or honor; we can and must learn how to serve quietly without seeking recognition or thanks for the simple reason that we do it in Christ and for Christ….
- Third, to love is to actively seek the welfare of [each other]. We are called to love; therefore our way of being in the world is always one of attentiveness for the well-being of all. And thus there is a close affinity between love and justice….
- Fourth, one of the most powerful forms of service is intercessory prayer. We serve one another by praying for one another. It is done quietly and without fanfare; it is offered in secret as an act of service…” (pp. 145, 146).
By John Ortberg
We have a need to connect.
“The yearning to attach and connect, to love and be loved, is the fiercest longing of the soul. Our need for community with people and the God who made us is to the human spirit what food and air and water are to the human body” (p. 18).
“Neil Plantinga notes that the Hebrew prophets had a word for just this kind of connectedness of all things: shalom — ‘the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight'” (p. 19).
“Community is the place God meets us” (p. 21).
“Community is rooted in the being of God” (p. 34).
“The Trinity exists as a kind of eternal dance of joyful love among Father, Son, and Spirit” (p. 35).
“In the Bible, a person’s name generally stands for his or her character and identity. To gather in Jesus’ name means tro relate to other people with the same spirit of servanthood, submission, and delight that characterizes Jesus in the Trinity” (p. 40). What does that mean?
The Fellowship of the Mat
Think abouwt the paralyzed man and the friends that brought him (dropped him through the roof) to Jesus (Mark 2:1-12).
“Here is the truth about us: Everybody has a mat. Let the mat stand as a picture for human brokenness and imperfection. It is not what is ‘not normal’ about me. It is the little ‘as is’ tag that I most desire to hide. But it is only when we allow others to see our mat, when we give and receive help with each other, that healing becomes possible” (p. 47).
“Humility and trust are more at the foundation of community than penrfection. If you want a deep friendship, you can’t always be the strong one. You will always have to let somebody else carry your mat” (p. 48).
A Community of Roof-Crashers
- Family: “A group which possesses and implements an irrational commitment to the well-being of others…noticing and doing (p. 52).
- Friend: “When someone is your friend, your greatest desire for them — deeper than external well-being or even physical health — is that things are right between them and God” (p. 56).
In Community with Jesus
“Count on it: In community with Jesus and with those who love you, most of what happened to this man will happen with you: Sin will get named and dealt with. And although this sounds frightening, it may be the best gift of all” (p. 57).
“The truth is, the more spiritually mature you grow, the more you will find your heart being drawn to people. You want to reach out to people, especially those neglected by society or far from God….People who don’t love people can’t love God” (p. 59).