The Loss of Community
I began a new series of teachings on Mother’s Day at CCEsco called “Reconcile.” The series has grown out of a number of conversations, encounters and times alone in thought and prayer that have lead me to some great [new] realizations for myself and those that I have the privilege of leading at CCE. Primarily I’ve been impacted by the importance of this “ministry of reconciliation” that each of us as believers has been brought into by Christ.
This last week [especially] I’ve been meditating upon what humanity lost in the fall, and how those things are restored to us in salvation. Very little exegesis is needed to identify and account for what was lost in the fall. At the close of Genesis 2, man and his wife were naked and unashamed; 7 verses later everything had changed.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
With the fist sin shame entered in, and the glorious oneness experienced by the first humans was devastated. With sin came the loss of community and ever since man has been trying to restore that which was lost by his own sinful efforts. Those efforts took the shape of fig leaves in Genesis 3; today it’s all manner of sinful behavior which is practiced with the fleeting hope of satisfying the inner longing for that which was lost in the fall.
The second loss of the fall is illustrated by man’s response to God’s presence in the garden after he and Eve had sinned, and by God’s question to Adam in Genesis 3:8-9.
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
Adam and Eve hid from God because of the shame of sin, and God identifies the separation between He and humanity in His inquiry, “Adam, where are you?” Sin caused separation between man and God, the loss of communion.
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
I highlight these losses—of community and communion—as I’ve come to realize that by their loss man is left yearning for them to be restored. Although man may not be able to adequately verbalize his want, it is I believe, the deepest desire of every human soul. We were created to live in genuine oneness with one another and fellowship with God. Of course, this that was lost at the fall is restored by the cross; and we, ministers of reconciliation/restoration, are given the privilege of reintroducing the lost to communion and community.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
Hi, Miles – good post. I am still trying to wrap my wind around the polarities of the church and the community it is meant to foster. On one hand, the church should be the safest place in the world for sinners even as the ER room should be the safest place for those injured in an accident or crime or whatever. Yet so often it is the most dangerous place for sinners because of judgment, indifference, and gossip. For some sinners, going to church is like a car accident victim treated by and transported to the hospital by the emergency medical techs only to have the doctors and nurses, upon arrival, put plastic bags over their heads and deprive them of oxygen to the point of death. Some churches can be like that.
On the other hand, the holiness of God comes with standards and expectations and requirements of a certain kind of life that is to be lived. There is a time when the discipline of the church is to be felt by those walking out of step w/ the Lord. Sigh….I guess it’s the perennial balance we try to maintain and usually err to one side or the other.
Thanks for the post.
You bring up such a good point! If you haven’t listened to any of the messages in my Reconcile series (which I assume you haven’t), then it’s clear that God has spoken the same thing to your heart that He has to mine.
Unfortunately I think that we have unintentionally imparted a mindset to many within the evangelical community that coming in contact with sinful people will make us sinful. It is a 21st century Phariseeism within the church. Thus many Christians are shocked by the presence of sinners coming to a church gathering, when in reality we should be rejoicing for the opportunity to share the love of Christ and reflect the Christ-honoring community we have with one another and the glorious fellowship we enjoy with God.
“I highlight these losses—of community and communion—as I’ve come to realize that by their loss man is left yearning for them to be restored. Although man may not be able to adequately verbalize his want, it is I believe, the deepest desire of every human soul. ”
Is not reconciliation primarily with God? In that adam and eve were separated from God. In Christ the church becomes one and that community is formed yet we can never be reconciled to the world because light and darkness cannot dwell together. And I would say that the death of Christ is not so we can be one with mankind in anyway but rather be Gods possession in eternity not on the earth.
I’d encourage you to listen to the series I did at Cross Connection Escondido on this very topic, I think it will more fully answer your question. But the short answer is “yes.” God does reconcile us to Himself through the cross, but I believe He also reconciles us to one another in Christ. I’m in no way advocating for the world to have a oneness relationship with unbelievers, as that is impossible. But we who are connected to God and one another within the body of Christ ought to be connecting with unbelievers to bring them into connection with the Lord.