While I was finishing yesterday’s blog entry, God blew my mind.
The First Word took a fairly deep dive into the word ‘in‘, and arrived at a pretty nifty (sez I) exploration of what it means to be in Christ, mostly courtesy of the Apostle Paul.
But as I was putting the final touches on that post, I took another look at its watershed verse (John 17:20-23), I noticed something really inconvenient:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
As I wrote yesterday,
The Holy Trinity is one of the great mysteries of our faith, so the non-sequitur description of the Father being in the Son and vice-versa and back again isn’t terribly startling to us veteran Jesus freaks. (Indecipherable, yes. But we’re used to that.) But where this passage does flummox me, regardless of how many times I’ve heard it, is its implication that we are invited into a similar relationship with God, where Christ is in us and we are in Christ. Almost as if we are each invited to be part of a holy quadrinity.
I liked where The First Word was headed, but the underlined portion of the Scripture above contains a wrinkle. It seems to indicate that we are invited to be united with each other, in the same way that the Father is in the Son and vice-versa, and that didn’t fit with my individual-focused understanding of the passage. It was as if I’d unknowingly constructed a small box around the word in, climbed in and made myself at home in it.
Quite inconveniently, this ‘all of them may be one’ thing didn’t fit inside my box, or inside that audacious quadrinity concept I described yesterday. So I decided to keep writing, and see what other Truths might be hidden in plain sight.
‘If a Trinity+me relationship is a quadrinity, what -ity word could we possibly coin that even begins to describe that purely theoretical Trinity+me+everybody else relationship?’ I began to write.
Then I received a word from God (with an accompanying wave of Goosebumps) that we don’t need to coin a new word. We’ve already got one.
We’ve simply forgotten what it means.
When Jesus says ‘community’, He’s not merely talking about the neighbours who come together in areas of common interest (like the local rec centre board or school council). His idea of community isn’t limited to 15 minutes of forced small talk over coffee and squares after church service, or even the twice-a-year mountain-top experiences of Christian retreat weekends.
Maybe He wants nothing less for (not ‘from’) us than the mutual, intimate, interdependent, empowering, enriching, compelling and completing relationship He has with the Father and Holy Spirit – with Him as individuals, to be sure – but perhaps more importantly, through Him, with each other.
This side of Heaven, that sounds pretty unattainable, and in my experience, attempts to build real community – even when we remember to involve God in the process – are frustrating and messy as hell.
But they’re a key part of what we’re called to live into, and they’re well worth it. So let’s keep at it.
Peace be with you.
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