Friday, February 02, 2007

Community vs. Oneness

Community vs. Oneness

A buzzword is a stylish or trendy word or phrase connected with a specialized field or group that usually sounds important or technical and is used primarily to impress laypersons or one’s audience with the pretense of knowledge. They are often used in managerial, technical, administrative, and sometimes political environments. Though apparently ubiquitous in these environments, the words often have unclear meanings; making them easy to use to make an impression. For this reason, buzzwords are often universal. They typically make sentences difficult to dispute, on account of their cloudy meaning. A buzzword may or may not appear in a dictionary, and if it does, its meaning as a buzzword may not match the conventional definition. Buzzwords can also function to control thought by being intentionally vague. In management, stating organizational goals by using words with unclear meanings prevents anybody from questioning the directions and intentions of these decisions, especially if many such words are used. Some examples to this are: proactive, momentum, sustainability, holistic, empowerment, etc.

Does the church have buzzwords? Try these terms: Cultural relevance, diversity in unity, seeker friendly, intentionality, etc. These are often used in board meetings, business meeting, seminars, conferences and literature about church growth and evangelism. Another such word is community. We often here church leaders talk about the church is a community of believers. What exactly does that mean? Well, I have yet to here anyone ask – myself included – so no one has attempted to answer. However, I believe that if anyone was asked what that community is, not one of them would have a definite answer and neither will at least two agree on their definitions.

The word community comes from the Latin communis, meaning "common, public, shared by all or many." The Latin term "communitatus" from which the English word "community" comes, is comprised of three elements, "Com-" - a Latin prefix meaning with or together, "-Munis-" - which means "the changes or exchanges that link" (Both municipal and monetary take their meaning here), and "-tatus" a Latin suffix suggesting diminutive, small, intimate or local. In simple terms a community usually refers to a group of people who interact and share certain things as a group. A community of believers is a group of people that worship in the same building. This community will follow certain guidelines, such as: paying tithes, not doing work on the Sabbath, go to Church on the Sabbath, participate in potlucks, etc. Whether or not they are all doctrinally and theologically in agreement, that is not what matters. But, is this what the Bible teaches?

Often the basis for calling into community comes from two sources in the Bible. One source is Genesis 2:18, which says, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” In this quarterly Ecclesiastes 4: 8-12 is used,

Ecclesiastes 4:8 There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him;

The conclusion: man is created a social being made for community. In Genesis man is given a woman to become one with her. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Do we become one flesh with a community? No, we just share common interests. But, woe of the man and woman who marry for community; when the one falls the other will not pick him or her up, and when the one is cold the other will not warm him or her. How many couples have sadly discovered this?

The next source that is used to support community is 1 Corinthians 12. Paul says in verse 4 that, “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.” He adds in verse 11 “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” Paul then continues on verse twelve to develop a metaphor that illustrates how this all works. There is One bode and one church. The body has different organs with different functions, just as the church has different members with different functions determined by the gift given by the Spirit. It would seem that the organs of the body work in coordination with each other for the good of the body. But, in reality, the one organ does not really work with the other organ; it is the brain that coordinates them. There is oneness between the each organ and the brain.

To use another metaphor: airplanes whether flying or on ground are not in community. Why are they coordinated? They must be some type of coordination; otherwise we would have planes crashing into each other. The answer to this enigma is there is oneness between the pilot of the plane and the traffic controller. It is the traffic controller who coordinates everything. For the church to function as it should there needs to be oneness between each member and Christ. This can only happen when we are totally yielded to the indwelling Spirit of God. In other words for the church to be one, working as one body, even when each member works in a different function, its members must let go of self and Sin, and choose to submit totally to God.

There are those who ask me, “What is wrong with the church?” The answer is that leaders and laity alike are pursuing community instead of oneness with Christ. Those who choose oneness with Christ will be one with Christ and with all other that choose oneness with Christ. They will feel fulfilled with peace, joy and agape. Those who choose community will never be one with anyone, and forever feel filled with despondency, sadness, hurt, anger, and hatred. They will use community to mask this. Which one will you choose?

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