Troubled Community? Try These Four Things

several pairs of shoes
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/2001899627/">D Sharon Pruitt</a>

1 John 1:1-4

We announce the origin of things to you. What we heard. What we witnessed with our own eyes. What we examined and touched with our own hands. It’s about life. Life that was revealed, that we’ve seen. We swear to it, and we tell you that life forever with the father was made known to us. And we’re telling you what we’ve seen and heard so you, too, can be together with us. Surely, we’re together with the father and with his son, Jesus. We’re writing this so our joy may be complete.

Here is yet another Christmas story. Another account of how it all started.

Like all the Christmas stories, it was written quite a while later, and the people writing it down weren’t actually there. The eyewitness is metaphorical. But the story provides the basis upon which the community that tells it is built. And in that sense, it’s not about the community’s past, but about its present. What is essential to the community’s value system. What is essential to pass on to the next generation for the community to continue to exist.

With that in mind, here are four observations we can glean from these lines about this early community of Christians.

  1. Their central value is life.
  2. Their core principle is togetherness.
  3. Their posture is invitation.
  4. And their prime movement is toward joy.

Whether you agree with their specific theology or not, a community affirmation of life, togetherness, invitation, and joy sounds like a pretty awesome thing. Just about any community would do well to emulate that.

Who You Are, Really

hands across the sand
Photo credit: Mel Green

1 John 3:1-3

Consider what love God has given us that we are children of God. We really are! The reason people don’t know it is that they don’t have any idea what God is like. Dearest friends, we are God’s children now. We don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that whatever happens, we are like God, and sooner or later we’ll all see it. Live completely in that hope. God does!

Today among many Christian traditions is All Saints. It’s the day when churches remember those who inspired them.

But it’s also a day to remember that now it’s our turn to be inspiring. We don’t have to be famous. We don’t even need to have official church status. All we need is to live into the gifts we’ve been given to change the world for the better. That, after all, is what Jesus did.

Jesus understood himself to be the child of God, and his acceptance of that as his self-understanding drove everything he did. Church theology has long affirmed that Jesus is uniquely the Son of God. But it simply doesn’t square with the New Testament. John says we are all children of God. Really. Now.

Believe it. Live it.