So, we looked last time at how God reveals Himself to us as a ‘Trinitarian Community of One.’ This is where we must start when we talk about God. This is the distinction of the Christian God above any others, He is the God who reveals Himself in this way. But what does this mean for us as we talk about community, and a Christian view of community?
Here we get into another doctrine, that of imago Dei. This is the doctrine that we (humanity/mankind) are created in the image of God – that is what the little Latin phrase means (imago Dei = Image of God). We get this doctrine from the story of creation in Genesis 1&2:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)
then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature…
…Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
We see the creation of humanity explicitly in the image of God in Genesis 1 – God declares that is how they will be made – and then we get a bit more detail in chapter 2. Here God creates Adam first, and then Eve from his rib at a later time. But what does this tell us about community? I hear you cry. This is the third post, and there is nothing about community really!
Well, if we are made in God’s image, and God is primarily a relational being, that is, He is exists in eternal, loving community, then it makes sense to infer that we are primarily relational beings also. Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in his sanctorium communio that we are so relational that it is only in our relationships with others that we discover who we are ourselves. That, in bumping up against the boarders of others, in finding out who we are not we discover who we are. He takes this even further to say that, because we are created in the image of God, then, when we are confronted by an ‘other’ we are also confronted, in some sense by the very presence of God being imaged to us in that person – what a wonderful thought!
If we start by looking at the Trinity, then, looking at ourselves we understand that to be human is essentially to be in relationship with others, in community with them. What the nature of that community is, we will cover in the next few posts.