Friday, 16 February 2007

Why I need community but don't want it

I am by temperament and culture very independent. I want to run my own world and control my own world. I am by nature heavily contextualized towards a liberal society that worships the freedom and autonomy of the individual.

The problem is that God won't let me have things that way. Salvation is not just about an individual event that happens to me. It's about a people being saved - an exodus of a whole people out of slavery. It's about the creation of a new nation, a new family, a new humanity. The fact is that I cannot be saved apart from that people. It's not just me, Jesus and my guitar.

What does that mean? It means I don't simply have my own personal relationship with God - it is a relationship connected to other people and - to an extent - it is through other people. I am connected to my brothers' relationship with God. Their growth is my growth, their falling away also implicates me. Their holiness and their sin affect me. Their lack of growth is my responsibility. Have I prayed for them? Have i sought their edification? In turn, I cannot grow without their help. Have I listened to them? Have I made myself accountable them? Have I allowed them to shape me? Ephesians 4 says that Christian growth is body growth. We grow together and live together. I am no longer independent, but interdependent. I am who I am as a Christian only in relation to other Christians. I find myself only together with them - I can only properly find God together with them. I cannot normally know God in abstraction from the community He has made.

Of course, none of this is a surprise when we know that our God is himself a community of three interdependent persons. Such a God means that love and relationship are at the heart of the universe. Given that, I can only suspect that my independence is really rooted in my thinking of God in a sub-Biblical, unitarian way (ie a God who is not trinity). This must affect not just my view of God, but my view of the universe: it's all about self-sufficiency, aloofness, power. And in that case, I do not find myself with others, but in abstraction from others.

This is why I don't seem to want community - but it's also why I desperately need it.