Dec 23

Rev Gav

A community born of God

In the wake of jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo winning the nobel peace prize, I remember listening to the radio where the presenter was talking with several Chinese students studying in the UK. The topic was freedom. If you will excuse my clumsy redaction of the conversation, the presenter asserted that it was a basic human right to be free to choose a political leader, whereas curiously to our Western ears, the Chinese students thought us ‘democratic British’ were far from free. They had a different set of criteria for defining freedom. With our unemployment, bureaucratic red tape, and bickering politics, they humbly asserted that they had greater freedom under their current Chinese government. Although John disagreed with their definition of freedom, even he had to agree that the Chinese, at the time, had greater stability.

In this clash of world-views, the Chinese focus on community was in stark contrast with our Western focus on the individual. The Chinese students could not define themselves as ‘separate’ from the community to which they belonged. To them, it didn’t make sense to talk about a person in isolation, as if the sum of a person was simply themselves. They also defined themselves in terms of their relationships with each other, and to some extent, with preceding generations.

We find this clash of world-views in the Bible too. It appears that God sees us not just as individuals but also as a community connected to each other and with him. The biblical prophets rarely spoke to an individual, but to the whole people of God. The Gospel accounts of Jesus and Paul’s letters were, for the most part, written to community and not to individuals. This community, called the church, is important to God. It should come as no surprise that God is interested in community when he himself is community — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

As a sign of wanting to embrace us in community, God became man in Jesus Christ. It was God’s way of drawing us back into community; a way of saying, “I’m in this with you,” and, “Come on, let’s do this together.” The story of Christmas is really the opening sentence of an invitation, and we, at extend that invitation. Come and find a new identity as a child of God, connected to God and to each other through Jesus. Come and join in with the ongoing mission of God in the world.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.  All my love and peace in Jesus.

Lisa-Dawn Johnston Dec 27 13:20pm

wow…. Fascinating read!
I love the concept. Thinking of ourselves as community! Talking about not putting yourself first!