Foundations of Community I: Triune Community

The most important thing we can possibly learn or understand about community is that community is made in the image of God. This means that the Trinity is the foundation for Christian community. Therefore, a single, solitary man does not bear the image of God in isolation, but in relation, in community. Since God Himself eternally exists in relationship, the image of God also exists in relationship. We were created to be image bearers, and learning to live in community is essential to that task. God Himself is a community of persons, and the life that they live together is the model for our life together. God’s goal for us, and Jesus’ prayer for us, is that we plural would learn how to live as one singular, in imitation of the Divine Life.

In order for us to live as a Trinitarian community, we need the Father to keep us. Community is not ultimately the result of our work or effort; it is the result of Jesus’ prayer on our behalf, and God’s work to keep us. This means that community is grace, and thus community is a reason for thanksgiving. This understanding of community as grace stands as a rebuke to our culture: we think that we can manufacture community. The only way our culture knows how to do community is by works. There is no grace to be found in any community outside of Christ, which means that all communities not founded on Christ will fail. You cannot build community on works; you can only build community on the authority of the Father, by the grace of Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit.

Christian community is not simply an imitation of divine community (be like God), it is participation in the divine community (be with God). We aren’t simply a community like God, we are in communion with God! God is not saying, “See how wonderful my community is? Go make yourself one like it.” Instead, by the work of the Spirit, God invites human beings to participate in the very life of God. You are no longer an outsider to the Trinity, you belong! God’s community includes all those in Christ, which means that when you join God’s community, you are joined to every Christian. He makes you to be one with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and you all share in the divine life together. When we live in community, we are living in the Trinity.

The two key points about Trinity and community are these: The Trinity is the foundation of Christian community, and Christian community brings glory to the Trinity. What is the relationship between these points? Because the Trinity is the foundation of community, therefore, when that community exists in a visible form, it displays the glory of the Triune God! John 17:22-23 could be paraphrased this way: God says “I gave our glory to these people, and I made them one, so that wherever this community of glory goes, our glory will be seen.” God made us one, as the Father, Son and Spirit are one, and we are in them, and God Himself is in us. As this works its way into our lives together, then wherever we look, we will see the glory of the Trinity, one God, three persons, reflected in a world of perfect, holy, and happy community.

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