Freshman year, I shared a bathroom with five guys and a 10×12 ft. dorm room with two roommates. We were destined for conflict, and it didn’t help that we were so different.
One roommate was a gamer, the other a runner, and I was a self-proclaimed academic. The gamer was an insomniac and woke at the slightest sound or glimmer of light. The runner went to bed early and woke up at five in the morning. I went to bed early and slept in most mornings. Our bedtimes were a point of conflict. To heighten the tension, the gamer and runner cranked the AC to the temperature of an igloo, which wasn’t to my liking. Our approach to conflict also caused dissension. I was all about confrontation and “laying problems on the table,” whereas the runner kept to himself. The gamer was entirely passive. Even our approach to conflict caused conflict. Freshman year was marked by conflict. My roommates and I were consumed by petty issues and placed them above people. We placed things above community because we had a low view of it.
Maybe, like me, you’re placing things above community. Instead of embracing differences, we let them divide us. While neglecting those whom we do not prefer, we lend preferential treatment to those who are cool, funny, smart, et cetera. Sometimes, we do not go outside of our comfortable community to invite others into it. Maybe the reason that we place things—our differences, preferences, selves, and comfort—above community is because we have a low view of it. But, the community to which the Christian belongs is extraordinarily valuable. We will stop placing other things above people in our communities when we see their importance. Throughout its narrative, the Bible shows that community is very important to God.
God went to great lengths to establish Christian community. It has always been his desire to be in perfect community. Below are a series of charts that maps God’s work to establish community before, during, and after time.
Before there was a before, God was in community with the Son and Spirit. Out of His abundance, He created man, and man had no mediators; community was complete.
But, perfect community did not last long, for man had a great fall and all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t rebuild community again. At this time, God appointed mediators who we know as priests and prophets to perform ritual sacrifices and prophecy to the nation of Israel. Also, God selected some people, in some places, for some time spans to be his people. In other words, community was limited.
But, God’s will was not for limited community. In fact, the moment after God pronounced His judgment of Adam and Eve’s actions, He initiated a plan to defeat the enemy and restore man to God. This pronouncement can be found in Genesis 3:15* and is referred to as the protoevangelium, the first reference to the Good News, God’s plan to destroy Satan and restore community with Him.
*”He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled in John 3:16. Through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Satan was defeated and man was given the opportunity to commune with God once again. Now, our only mediator is the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, who extends the opportunity of fellowship to all people, in all places, for some time (only some time because His offer lasts only during the life of man). Thus, all who believe in Him may have community with the Father, Son, and Spirit as well as with other Christians.
However, even the Christian community is not entirely complete because we live in the period of history which theologians refer to as the “already but not yet,” that is to say that the kingdom of God has been inaugurated by the first coming of Christ but will not be made in its fullness until the second coming. In other words, Christ is reigning but sin and evil still exist though not for long.
There will be a day when Christ returns and restores humankind to the fullness of community that was experienced before time. There will be no mediators and community will be complete again.
I did not understand God’s grand vision of community my freshman year of college. I traded God’s great vision for my petty preferences; I placed things above community. If I had understood this concept, bedtimes and room temperatures and strategies to conflict resolution would not have prohibited me from enjoying the community to which God called me.
If we value community, we will recognize that He who was most unlike us loved us, despite our differences, and, therefore, we will not allow differences to divide us. When we see that Christ left His comfortable abode to descend among us, the detestable, and preferred us, we will yield to God’s preference, which is for all to know Him; we will die to our preferences when we realize Christ died to His. God went to great lengths to include us in community. It is His heart’s desire; therefore, we must go outside of our Christian communities to include people in the eternal family of God by sharing the Gospel.
Written by John Brock