God of Community
Let Us Not Forsake the Assembling of Ourselves Together (borrowed from the language of Hebrews 10:25)
The Lord God Almighty is a God of community. For those of us who are believers, in the Christian Tradition, we understand that the God we serve is the Holy Trinity of God. We can also refer to this dichotomy as the Triune God. Our God is a God of three in one. Not three separate gods or entities, but one God in three distinct expressions. The Creator (parent), Jesus Christ the Savior (Son), and the Holy Spirit interceder and sustainer of all. Another way to say this is The Lord is the God of creation, redemption, and guidance.
Our scriptures found in the Bible attest to this reality and the full functionality of all three persons of God throughout history, as we know it in scripture and as a lived reality. It is because of this fact that I believe it is important to understand and be constantly reminded that our God is in community with Godself.
Why is this relevant to bring up if the Bible and 2,000 years of Christian tradition affirm this reality?
I’m glad that you asked!
We often times do not understand that because God is in community with Godself, “He” wants the same for “His” people and all creation. After all, Genesis 1:27 says,
“So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female he created them” (NIV).
We are meant to be in community with one another and with the entirety of God’s creation. The reality is that we are and all of creation are connected to God. This also helps to subvert some interpretations of Genesis as it relates to the “dominion” (Genesis 1:28, NKJV) that human beings have over the earth. Many have taken this as a license that we can do what we want. But this is just not so. Dominion calls upon us to be “good stewards” of God’s creation. Jesus has several parables throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) depicting good and bad stewards. I liken it to being asked to look after someone’s home. We wouldn’t tear up their home or neglect the responsibility that they bestowed upon us; we should operate the same way with God, ourselves, and the whole of creation
Additionally, scripture tells us in Matthew 18:20 –
“For where two or three gather together as my followers (in my name), I am there among them” (NLT).
We can also reference Psalm 133:1 –
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (NIV)!
We can recount pages and pages of scripture that express this same familiar idea of our togetherness. One last reference I want to make is critically important. The Book of Acts details the beginning and early years of the ministry of the church, beginning with the followers of Jesus, mainly, the disciples, being empowered by the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:44-48 tells us,
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (NKJV).
I have often referenced this scripture as a means to emphasize the importance of cooperative community economics (an exegetical task I will take on as a separate issue at another time), but it clearly demonstrates that togetherness and community was and is the goal.
There was a time, throughout most of my college career, even when I accepted my call to ministry I did not want anything to do with the church. I reasoned that I still loved The Lord and was deeply spiritual, so I didn’t need church. I had become disillusioned with what the church too often came to represent. I could not stand that the white conservative evangelical movement had all but hijacked what it meant to be a Christian in most people’s minds! In addition, being that I was rooted in the Black Church I did not always like what I observed as an overemphasis on numbers (and competition thereof) and the disengagement of the church from the socio-economic, political, and cultural realities of the day as it relates to freedom (which is a move away from what the Black Church has been historically). I took to heart, in the wrong way, the popular Gospel hit by Vickie Winans, "Long As I Got King Jesus," which purports "Long as I got King Jesus, I don't need nobody else!" Ironically, during this time, when people would come to me about matters of faith, I would always counsel, when it came up, that they should not use/allow the behaviors or living of others to affect/alter their belief and faith journey. I was doing what I was counseling against, in the sense that I chose to disconnect from the church (not the faith itself).
I was “forsaking the assembly of ourselves together,” and this was wrong! That is what we must not do, if we are to reflect God’s will for our lives. The God of community is one, and “he” is calling on us to be one as well.