Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Sixth Key Thread in Biblical Communities

In my last blog post (I apologize for the time between that one and this one), I talked of five common threads that tie together the Biblical models of Kingdom communities. Namely,

1. God is the foundation of each
2. He is the Chief and most glorious inhabitant
3. Communities suffer or are not fully realizing their potential if God is not held in His proper place
4. The earthly models of community given to us by God are to serve as "crucibles" to us becoming the community He desires for us
5. In God's communities, lived according to God's way, He brings about wholeness

There is also a sixth and probably more pronounced yet subtle thread that runs through each of these communities and that is the thread of right relationships. Community, lived out and expressed as God desires, is always about living in right relationships. It is about living in right relationships in regards to our vertical relationship (us to God) and our horizontal relationships (us to our fellow man, us to nature and us to even ourselves).

When God calls us to be a part of His community, His fellowship, He calls us to righteousness in our relationships. This righteousness is defined to us in both the written and living Word and imparted to us under the New Covenant through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, it is something that we also have to "work out" in each of our own lives, in our relationships and in our standing in God's community.

I have often quoted myself (a dangerous thing!) in something that God placed on my heart in my early Christian pilgrimage saying, "There can be no right way of living without right relationships." What I mean is that there are no "lone ranger" Christians; a call to Christ is not just an individual thing but rather and invitation to community, God's community! In addition, our horizontal relationships (to our fellow man, to creation and to ourselves) say much and show even more the status of our vertical relationship to God.

So, in summary, here are the four basic relationships that God calls us to when He calls us to His glorious salvation...

1. Ourselves to God Himself (vertical) - Recognizing God as sovereign and Lord of all yet intimately seeking fellowship/relationship with each of us.
2. Ourselves to our fellow man/woman (horizontal) - Loving our neighbor as ourself.
3. Ourselves to creation, His creation (horizontal) - A love for the Creator and a love and respect for His creation (of which we ourselves are a part)
4. Ourselves to, well, ourselves (horizontal) - Loving ourselves in a way that respects and honors God as He created us. This one has to do very much with God's view of ourselves and is a foundation for our other horizontal relationships.

Next post, I will begin discussing each of these "community threads" and what they mean to us as individuals and, more importantly, a community in God.

Until then...


  1. Jeff, one thing I like about living in Asia is that life is really based upon relationships. Life turns on building and maintaining relationships. One of the things that makes living in Asia difficult is that life is really based upon relationships. I did not grow up in a culture that taught me how to effectively build and maintain horizontal relationships. These are key to reaching into communities.

  2. Good point. And this should be understood in light of the fact that the NT and OT cultures found in the Bible are much more relational than say an independent, "self made man" culture valued by most western thinkers like myself. For me, this is a bit of a barrier in understanding community as God has planned it. In other words, my own culture (of which I'm a product and of which I'm proud of) gives me a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to understanding community and the importance of relationships.