The term ‘community’ has become fashionable. Everyone talks about its importance and how to create it. We speak of shared vision and mission, of breaking down barriers and distinctions, and of inclusion and tolerance. Yet community is created neither by the obliteration nor exaltation of individualism. Real community depends upon something objectively transcendent to the individual and the group to which he belongs. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together expresses this pointedly.
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone… We recognize, then, that only as we are within the fellowship can we be· alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship. Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship. It is not as though the one preceded the other; both begin at the same time, namely, with the call of Jesus Christ. Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils. One who wants fellowship without solitude plunges into the void of words and feelings, and one who seeks solitude without fellowship perishes in the abyss of vanity, self-infatuation, and despair. Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.
Christianity declares that the only transcendent reality powerful enough to create lasting community is the resurrection of Jesus and the life that comes through believing in Him. Often the gospel is viewed simply as a path for personal, individual redemption. But it is much more than just that. God has reconciled us to himself through the cross and, consequently reconciles us to one another. Sin is a breaker and divider. The gospel restores community.
John’s gospel holds a surprising ending. The story of Jesus appears to end in John 20 with an invitation to the skeptical to examine the strong evidence for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and a final summary of Jesus’ life and work,
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
Then, unexpectedly, we find a postscript in John 21. One more vignette of the risen Jesus with his disciples, not to further prove the reality of the resurrection, but to answer the question “What’s Next?” How does the resurrection powerfully change the lives of those who believe in it? What does following Christ mean in light of the resurrection? What does it look like to experience life together?
Join us this Lord’s Day, April 8, as we examine the John’s postscript and consider what it looks like to live in light of the resurrection. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions.
Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.