A Scripture study from Caring, part one of four.
Why is community important? Why do we need it in our lives? We have a deep desire to belong to something and participate in the complicated lives of others. It can be frustrating at times, but we can rest assured that it isn’t by accident.
We were designed for community. We were intended to belong in relationship. Scripture tells us we were created in the image of God. Often, we consider singular attributes when we reflect on the image with which we were created. One thing that is often overlooked, is that God is a God of community. To be made in his image means that we are made for community, too.
Behind the scenes
Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The word used for God here is Elohim. This word can be used in both a singular and plural form for god(s). Later, Genesis 1:26 offers the narrative of God’s creation of humankind. It reads, “Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness.” God is speaking about himself using plural language. From the very beginning of his Word, we are shown God is in community, and this Old Testament reference isn’t the only time God is written in Scripture in the plural form.
In the New Testament, the book of John opens with an understanding of God always being in community, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). John calls Jesus the Word. This is a familiar term for both Jews and Greeks but perhaps the most telling part of the verse is the word used for “with God.” In Greek, the word is pros which means “toward.” This is significant because it is implying a face-to-face relationship with one another. From the beginning, as in before creation, God was togetherness.
God refers to himself as the Trinity from the beginning of time. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in relationship with one another is the image we were created from. Each person in the Godhead relies on another. While each offers a unique function, there is still a relationship of dependency with one another. It’s complex, and at times, it is difficult for us to even wrap our minds around. Still, it offers such an explanation into why we are the way we are.
Beyond the surface
From birth, we need other people. Newborns need nurturing touch, reassuring voices and gentle love to grow and thrive. As children age, they still need that trusted voice and affirming love. Into adulthood, we long for relationship with others. We seek out those who will feed our souls through trusting bonds. We do this because the God we were made in the image of is constantly in a perfect relationship.
In his book, “Experiencing the Trinity,” author Darrell Johnson writes, “It is because we are created in the image of the Trinity that loneliness is so crushing, that broken relationships are so debilitating, that death is so painful. Lack or loss of relationships violates our essential nature, created to reflect the relational essence of God.”
When we think about community, we often think about the cities we live in. Occasionally, our minds lean toward the thought of schools, churches or social clubs. The thing that makes all these places our community is our sense of belonging to them. There is rightness in our connection with others in a way that sometimes feels indescribable. As a product of God’s creation, we were made to take refuge in our relationship with him and find comfort in our relationships with others.
In Genesis 2:18, the Lord says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” While this is preceding the creation of Eve, the sentiment remains that it isn’t good for us to be alone. Throughout Scripture we read stories of people who seek community with God and community with others during all parts of their life. Living and participating in community is one that is necessary for our well-being.
Between the lines
Take a moment and consider your own relationships.
- Where do you belong?
- How would you describe that community of people?
- Do you belong with a group of people?
- Do you have community outside of your own family unit?
Sometimes we struggle to find community. If you can’t identify the friends and/or loved ones that make up your community, take a moment to ask God to show them to you. Ask him to open conversational doors so that you can build those relationships that will nurture your soul.
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