‘I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.’ John 17: 20-21
I am back to my favourite passage..musing about community. Jean Vanier wrote that that ‘community is a place of pain, of the death of ego’. In community, he writes, ‘we are sacrificing independence and the pseudo-security of being closed up. We can only live in this pain if we are certain that for us being in community is our response to a call from God. If we do not have this certainty, we will not be able to stay in community.’ I was then thinking about the perfect community that we see represented in the Trinity; a community of deference, unlimited love and sacrifice. We exist in tension between on the one hand, a place of perfect Holy community that we are part of, yet do not fully experience, and on the other, an imperfect community that we fully experience, yet falls short of what it seeks to represent.
Community is a call from God, firstly His call to us to enter perfect community with Him, and then His call for us to represent that community to others regardless of it’s imperfections. Strangely, however, we seem to live in a society that attempts to hide imperfection, to gloss over or, worse, deny our corruptibility. We either dis-engage when faced with conflict, or worse seek to build a community that masks it. Since when did spirituality flourish amongst disengagement or denial? Surely it is quite the opposite? Should community, therefore, be a place where conflict and imperfection are faced and embraced as a way of journeying towards perfect community? Should we seek to engage with difference, in order to tease out our own corruptible view of normality? How can we demonstrate tolerance unless we embrace difference? How can we demonstrate love unless we are willing to step into a place where love is less than perfect? How can we persevere in the absence of opposition?
As Christians, lets not panic at the firsts signs of conflict, but embrace it as a means by which the perfect community of a Trinitarian God can be demonstrated to the world. You never know, we may actually enjoy it!