The Unity in Community

Community is important to the First Nation peoples of our country. The horrors that some experienced because of the abuses that took place within the residential school system were one thing. But the removal of the children from their families and their community was the first offense in a long line of offenses.

If the church is to attract the peoples of the First Nations (or anyone else) it must become community. That was always God's intention. Redemption is as much about saving community as it is about the saving of an individual soul.

I've often wondered why God, who is One, chose to present Himself in three distinct persons. I had an "aha" moment when I though of how wonderful it was that God would give us in the Trinity, the example of perfect community: Father, Son and Spirit in perfect unity. When God created man, He and they were a community—until sin entered and community was damaged. Now the grace of God reaches down through Jesus Christ to restore that community with God that we lost.

When John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah, inspired by the Spirit of God, said the words recorded for us in Luke 1:68-79. The prophesy looks back at the covenant made between God and Abraham when God promised to make of Abraham, a community, a nation. Zechariah says that the coming Messiah was God's ultimate way to remember that covenant and restore the community by giving "his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins" (1:77).

Jesus' last prayer, as recorded for us in John 17 was for unity. "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...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" (John 17:20-23).

The bottom line of this community is forgiveness, first of all the forgiveness of the individual and then the forgiveness that is essential within the community to make that unity of spirit a reality. Only by presenting that united front of forgiveness and the love that arises from it can we, the church, hope to have an impact on the world.

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35).

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