As Christians we believe that God is ‘three-in-one’: a Trinity, consisting of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that God, essentially, exists ‘in community’, and that the love that flows between the members of the Trinity overflows and is expressed in the creation of the world. Because of this and because we believe that humans are made in the image of God, we understand that relationships and community are essential to human life and flourishing. In fact, it isn’t just the case that we need relationships and community; rather, we are made to be with one another.
The story of salvation, especially as it is seen in Jesus’ incarnation and at Pentecost, is that the triune God invites people to be a part of the godly community again. When we respond to Christ, we enter this community. As we do this, we are called to give up our own self-interest and to care for other people in relationships that acknowledge our differences and enable us to flourish.
Within this community we have responsibilities to each other, and our well-being is essentially connected to each other’s. The story of Cain and Abel is an early example of this. In Genesis 4 it is clear that God expects Cain to be his brother’s keeper, and Cain is punished for breaking that bond. In Acts we see the way that the early church shared their resources and cared for each other (Acts 4:32–35).
Paul believed that the church should be the community that showed the diversity and unity of the body of Christ to the world. He argued that no single part of the body can be reduced to the function of another, and no part can subsist alone (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12). He also suggests that community is sustained by supporting and affirming others – that is, by love – so that the community remains united (1 Cor. 10; Rom. 14).
In this short clip René August talks about the importance of reconciliation in building community.