Our Faith Is in Community
Monday, May 24, 2021
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16–17)
We’re in a spiritual crisis, and the key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in inextricable human connection. That connection—the spirit that flows between us and every other human in the world—is not something that can be broken; however, our belief in the connection is constantly tested and repeatedly severed. —Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness
On my own, I don’t know how to believe that I am a child or heir of God. It is being together in our wholeness, with the entire body of Christ, that makes it somehow easier to believe that we are beautiful. We each have our own little part of the beauty, our own gifts of the Spirit, as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 12. Paul says that the particular way “the Spirit is given to each person is for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). Paul’s word for this is a “charism”—a gift that is given to each person not just for themselves, but to build up the community and even society. Since we don’t have the full responsibility of putting it all together as individuals, we can shed the false theology of perfectionism. All we have to do is discover our own gift, even if it is just one thing, and use it for the good of all.
Paul uses the brilliant metaphor of the body to show how unity is created out of diversity: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. . . . Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it” (see 1 Corinthians 12:12, 27).
So we, in our corporate wholeness, are the glory of God, the goodness of God, the presence of God. As an individual, I participate in that wholeness, and that is holiness! It’s not my private holiness; it’s our connectedness together. In Peter’s words, echoing the Hebrew Scriptures, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart, who have been called out of darkness into this wonderful light. Once you were not a people at all; now you are the very people of God” (1 Peter 2:9–10). Jesus’ corporate image is the Reign or Kingdom of God. Paul’s is the Body of Christ. John’s is the journey into mystical union where “I and the Father are one” (see John 10:30).
All of them are looking for a corporate, communal, participatory image of what’s really happening, because the individual cannot carry such glory and greatness—and neither can the individual bear such universal suffering and sadness.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation, disc 7 (Franciscan Media: 2002), CD.
Story from Our Community:
Thanks for your years of meditations, Oneing, and the podcasts. I find myself coming to the same place albeit from a different starting point—the oneness of God and the universality of truth, as we watch ancient wisdom, spiritual allegory, and modern science converge in this time we live. There is great truth coming into focus for those who seek. —David H.