Scott Postma

Discover your significance, create meaningful art, and make a difference that actually matters

The Roots of Community

Cornelis van Haarlem Corneliszoon

The First Family – by Cornelis van Haarlem Corneliszoon (1589)

According to acclaimed Psychologist, Abraham Maslow, our most basic human needs can be boiled down to security, satisfaction, and significance.

A reflection on these human needs reveals relationships are at the heart of our identity. But as we’ll see, Scripture affirms this as well.

Imago Dei

When God made mankind, male and female, he made the man in his own image from the dust of the ground. Then he made the woman from the body of the man as a reflection of that image.

The fact that we are made in the image of a triune God reveals something more about our identity as humans. By making us in His own image, God has conferred both a tripartite dignity as well as a communal nature that is reflected equally in the sexes.

Just as God has perfect communion with himself, and now because of His creative work, with us, we too were created to exist in community—both with God and with one another.

The First Family

In Genesis 1:26-31, God creates a wife for Adam before declaring His creative work finished (very good).

And when Cain commits fratricide and refuses to repent, his punishment is to be uprooted from his family, his community, and forced to wander the earth as a vagabond (Genesis 4:10-17). He chooses not to go alone though. He takes a wife and founds his own city.

The need for community is so innate, so deep, and so powerful in humanity, many, like Cain, will go so far as to substitute a healthy community with a community void of God and righteousness just to meet the unfulfilled desire of accepting and being accepted by others.

This innate need, rooted in our created selves, is often the most compelling reason kids without a sense of community at home gravitate toward gangs or other unhealthy sub-cultures.

The necessity of community is innate in mankind; we cannot be healthy without it.

About Scott Postma

Scott lives in North Idaho collecting more books than he'll ever read in a lifetime. He helps people cultivate their capacity to perceive and appreciate the good, the true, and the beautiful by sharing rich insights into the arts and humanities, meaningful perspective on faith and culture, and valuable tips on writing and teaching. You can subscribe to the tribe and follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Subscribe for free, and get Write Like A Human, a resource that will teach you C.S. Lewis’s “secret sauce” for excellent writing. Plus, I’ll send you updates directly to your inbox every time I post.


 

Comments Policy: Comments that are relevant and add value to the conversation are encouraged, even if they express disagreement with the topic or the writer. All comments must be free from gross profanity, or otherwise distasteful language (at moderator’s discretion), and accompanied by a valid first name and email address (all anonymous comments are blocked).

3 Replies

  1. angela

    “And when Cain commits fratricide and REFUSES to REPENT, his punishment is to be uprooted from his family, his community, and forced to wander the earth as a vagabond…”

    I have been reading everything I can find over the past 6 months on church discipline. Having witnessed a devastating, unexpected split in a family, including professing Christians, I have searched the Scriptures, and read and listened to sermons and commentaries, regarding putting a Christian out of fellowship…as a way of understanding what may have happened to this family.

    I needed to more fully understand the process and purpose of church discipline, as it is described in the Bible. Ultimately, the goal of proper church discipline is not to punish a failing brother or sister in Christ. On the contrary, the purpose is to bring the person to a point of godly sorrow and repentance, so that he or she turns away from sin and experiences a fully restored relationship with God and other believers, thereby being welcomed back fully into the Christian community.

    Matthew 18:15-17 clearly defines the practical steps for confronting and correcting a wayward believer:
    1) First, one believer (usually the offended person) will meet individually with the other believer to point out the offense. If the brother or sister listens and confesses, the matter is resolved.

    2) Second, if the one-on-one meeting is unsuccessful, the offended person will attempt to meet with the believer again, taking with him one or two other members of the church. This allows the confrontation of sin and resulting correction to be confirmed by two or three witnesses.

    3) Third, if the person still refuses to listen and change his behavior, the matter is to be taken before the entire congregation. The whole church body will publicly confront the believer and encourage him to repent.

    4) Lastly, if all attempts to discipline the believer fail to bring change and repentance, the person will be removed from the fellowship of the church.

    Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 5:5 that this final step in church discipline is a way of delivering the unrepentant brother or sister “…to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” (ESV) So, in extreme cases, it is sometimes necessary for God to allow the devil to work in a sinner’s life to bring him or her to full repentance.

    Galatians 6:1 describes the correct attitude of believers when exercising church discipline: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (ESV)
    Gentleness, humility, and love must guide the attitude of those who wish to restore a fallen brother or sister. Spiritual maturity and submission to the Holy Spirit’s leading are of vital importance, as well.

    Church discipline should never be entered into lightly or for minor offenses. It is a very serious matter calling for extreme care, godly character, and a true desire to see a sinner restored and the purity of the church maintained.

    When the process of church discipline brings about the desired result—repentance—then the church must extend love, comfort, forgiveness and restoration to the individual. (2 Corinthians 2:5-8).

    However, what if not even the first step is taken before exiling the supposedly erring Christian? What if she heard 2nd hand that the professing Christians in her family had not only removed her from their immediate families community, but also insisted that anyone- friends, family, ministers, missionaries, etc.- in their extended community must all exile her, or they would exile them as well. Where is this in the Bible? Forced division. “Choose me, or choose her, and let me know if you choose her, so I may remove you from my community.” Not wanting to believe this 2nd hand information, the person who was the brunt of this division asked to see proof of what was being done…and it was provided. A professing Christian had written to over 50 people, the vast majority of which who are Christians, and insisted they choose between her and the Christian she was seeking to ostracize.

    How does one go about approaching this situation? Children on the wrong side of the division have been exiled from Christian running groups, Christian pre-school co-ops, and so on. The leaders of those groups were made to choose, and in doing so, they never reached out to speak with the person who, “Can’t be allowed to come here, or we won’t stay.”

    This disheartening division began in early March, and has escalated even recently. To date, the professing Christians who are spearheading all of this, have never once reached out to the Christian they have put out of their lives.

    This devastated Christian began to believe going to a Mormon Church wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world. She is surrounded by sweet, loving members of the LDS Church, and truly, they seem to be some of the kindest people she knows. Her youngest daughter has always made the closest friends with LDS youth. Thoughts such as, “At least we would have a church home…perhaps God would use us there, to speak His truth…” Long talks in various LDS homes, and in her own home have ensued. These people seem to care. No, they don’t understand the true Living God of the Bible, but they can certainly be reached for His glory.

    This woman will not even visit a church she had begun to call home prior to this division, for fear the ostracizing family will see her and storm out of the church, causing them and others to be distracted from what God would have for them there that day.

    Certainly the deep, God-placed longing for community creates an abyss-like void that cries out to be filled, and sends its bearer into despair.

    Again, how would you suggest someone in this situation may become restored to those Christians who will not speak to her, and insist others do not, also? Beyond prayer, which is the constant cry of her heart.

    Thank you, Pastor Scott. <

    P.S.
    I paraphrased much of the sections on church discipline from studies I have been reading. (It isn't plagiarism if I admit it…right?)

    1. Angela,
      You’re right: “The deep, God-placed longing for community,” if not fulfilled, can certainly create “an abyss-like void that …sends its bearer into despair.” And yes, most definitely “The the purpose [of church discipline] is to bring the [unrepentant] person to a point of godly sorrow and repentance, so that he or she turns away from sin and experiences a fully restored relationship with God and other believers, thereby being welcomed back fully into the Christian community.”

      I’m sorry to hear about the situation you described. Unfortunately, it would be impossible for me to speak to it, intelligently. However, the best advice I could give is in the words of the Apostle Paul, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” -Romans 12:18