September 01, 2015

Perfect Community

John 17:20-26

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.

—  John 17:22-23

What is perfect community? I believe it to be a situation in which the unique perspectives of each member are embraced with compassion, not just tolerated. Each person is known by and knows the others. Each person’s gifts contribute to the community’s life. Differences among members do not cause fear or prejudice but add life, beauty, color, and fun to the community. Each cares for the others so much, each values the others so much, each wants to serve the others so much that in a sense they are not many but one. Individual identity and community identity balance so that the will of the group never overwhelms the individuals and the will of an individual never dominates the group.

Amazingly, such a community exists. We call that community “God”—mysteriously one God in three persons. The biblical analogy for God’s tri-unity is the church, called to be the earthly reflection of this perfect community. Jesus prayed that we, his people, may be one as he and the Father are one.

In Biblical Foundations for Small Group Ministry, Paul Hanson wrote, “The true community of faith, by experiencing in its own life the creative redemptive presence of God, holds before the world . . . the vision of the whole human family reconciled and living together in peace.” Do you long for this vision too?

One God in Three Persons, make each of your people unique and yet also one in unity, purpose, mission, and love, just like you. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Mark Stephenson

Rev. Mark Stephenson is the Director of Disability Concerns for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Previously he served in two congregations in Michigan. He and his wife have four children.

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