Saturday, November 14, 2009

Identity and Community

I have been thinking a lot about "identity" recently.  So as I was reading Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community (2008), this quote jumped out at me (pg. 39):
The church lies at the very center of the eternal purpose of God.  It is not a divine afterthought.  It is not an accident of history.  On the contrary, the church is God's new community.  For his purpose conceived in a past eternity, being worked out in history, and to be perfected in a future eternity, is not just to save isolated individuals as so perpetuate our loneliness, but rather to build his church, that is, to call out of the world a people for his own glory. (Stott, The Living Church, 2007, pgs.19-20).
Here are some other quotes from the Chapter 2 "Why Community?":
An identity that I construct for myself is far removed from an identity I receive by grace (40).

The Bible shows that we are communal creatures, made to be lovers of God and of others (40).

I cannot be who I am without regard to other people (41).

If the church is the body of Christ, then we should not live as disembodied Christians (41).

The church gives us a new community and a new identity (41).

The church, then, is not something additional or optional.  It is at the very heart of God's purposes.  Jesus came to create a people who would model what it means to live under his rule.  It would be a glorious outpost of the kingdom of God, an embassy of heaven.  This is where the world can see what it means to be truely human (50).

Our identity as human beings is found in community.  Our identity as Christians is found in Christ's new community.  And our mission takes place through communities of light (50).
More on Total Church here, including 3 videos on "Community Training" and a pdf study guide of the book.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ has a body and that believers are members of that body. Limbs and organs cannot survive apart from their attachment to the body.

Any contextualized approach to religious identity that advocates or otherwise results in people making faith commitments to a "disembodied" Christ is both unbiblical and a tremendous disservice to the believer.

Abu Daoud said...

Reminds me of Eastern Orthodox ecclesiology.