– Community is One of the Beautiful Fruits of Christ’s Victory on the Cross -
Engage’s theme this year has been about the meaning of community in the Christian life. Numerous conceptions of and approaches to this idea can be made with equal validity. One such approach derives from Saint Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. He explains the impact that Christ’s Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection have had on community:
Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.
Eph. 2:14-16. Christ the Victor brings peace. We suffered division in at least two ways prior to Christ’s triumphant arrival: Jew from Gentile, and man from God. Christ’s Passion has reconciled both of these estrangements, and now we can truly be able to enjoy community in peace.
Typically, I reflect exclusively on the second healed division involving man and God. This always seemed to be the reconciliation that mattered, and naturally it is of the utmost importance. But Saint Paul makes clear to us that God has not just ransomed us from the clutches of evil by raising redeemed humanity up to Him. He has also reconciled us one to another. Plainly, this breaks down the traditional barriers between the Jews and the Gentiles. However, the larger point is that He has created a unified humanity, the Church.
My take away from this powerful scripture is that I need to look at my friendships as the very fruits of Christ’s Passion. How much more meaningful will my relationships be if I realize that Christ has sanctified them through the establishment of His Holy Church? I dare say I’d treat my friends much differently. He promises us that our connection to each other will grow with Christ as the foundation. His imagery is clear and strong: we should build upon one another as to build a very temple to God:
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members
of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
- A man in Community