Introducing Ishshah’s Story

wfnjpgimageI’m excited to be able to announce today the launch of a new joint venture blogsite, Ishshah’s Story (www.ishshahsstory.com).

Ishshah’s Story is a collaborative effort between myself, (Cheryl), Melody of Meanwhile Melody Muses, Nancy of Wellspring of Life and Pat from Women for the Nations, and will be a sister site to Bread for the Bride.

Ishshah’s Story is about women who love, serve and follow Jesus Christ.  Together we are going to explore, learn, communicate, contribute and discover what extraordinary creatures we women can be when we are actively encouraged to blossom into all we are in Christ.

But hey, I don’t want to give the impression Ishshah’s Story is a ‘girl’s only’ blog.  No, we’d love nothing more than to have the support and input of our Christian brothers who care enough to come alongside  as Christ’s female followers emerge from almost two thousand years of gender bias within organised Christianity.  So, guys, I know you’re out there and you’re more than welcome to add your support!

Ishshah’s Story grew, the same way many ideas do, out of two ingredients:  vision and frustration.  For many years I’ve nurtured a vision to see Christian women functioning freely in Christ on totally equal terms with men.  The frustration came with a growing realisation that there’s so much discussion around this issue (and that’s a good thing!), but still multitudes of ordinary women worldwide remain limited in roles and stifled in their spiritual giftings due to gender bias that finds its justification in what I believe is an incorrect interpretation of certain Biblical passages. (I shared a little about that frustration here.)  Friends, this is nothing less than spiritual abuse on a grand scale.

There are many bloggers contributing to the discussion on gender equality in the church, and doing it well.  Your will find some of them in the Resources Section of Ishshah’s Story.  I wanted to move beyond the discussion. I wanted to establish a practical avenue that would assist women, perhaps women who have never before been given a platform, to find their voices in a safe and affirmative environment.  Ishshah’s Story is the culmination of that desire.

So Ishshah’s Story will be an online hub where we hope you, (yes, that’s right you, shy little lady hiding behind the keyboard) will eagerly share your beautiful offerings for the edificaiton of Christ’s Body.   Nancy, Pat, Melody and I will facilitate, moderate, encourage and contribute out of the depth of our own journeys, but you, your gifts, talents and journeys, will be the main event.

We are inviting you to send us your original articles and creative input that will glorify Christ and testify of your journey as you have been learning what it is to overcome in Him.  We’ll also be celebrating the female heroes of the Christian faith, past and present, and offering in depth teaching on vital scripture passages.

Curious?  Then come on over and check out Ishshah’s Story, and while you’re there we’d love to have your comments.  You’ll find all the guidelines on how to be part of Ishshah’s Story on the blogsite.  Be sure to take your time and have a good look around, and consider following along with us.  Don’t forget to visit Nancy, Melody and Pat as well.

Oh, and who is Ishshah?  Come on over and find out!

Cheryl McGrath

Bread for the Bride

For Black Sheep and Misfits

black pawn

My favourite childhood uncle died last week. The combination of age (he was in his eighties), dementia and Parkinson’s disease finally became too much.

I had seen him only once in the last ten years, but my strongest memories of him will always be childhood ones. I remember him as a kind and trustworthy man. Even as a young girl I sensed that as his brother’s child I was genuinely important to him. I once was told he and his wife had begun their marriage with a mutual desire to bring as many children into the world as they could support. And they did so: three daughters and five sons, each one excitedly anticipated, welcomed and celebrated; each with his or her own unique place in the family; each cherished, nurtured and unconditionally loved.

I’m told all eight, adults now, plus many of their own children, gathered around his bedside in his final days, never leaving him alone for a minute. Four hundred people attended his funeral. In his lifetime my uncle was a son, a husband, a brother, a friend, an administrator, a respected community member, and chairman of a board. But the role that defined him above all, and for which he is now lovingly remembered most, was fatherhood. This man was a natural father, not only to his own children, but to others of us outside his immediate household. He was my ‘favourite uncle’ because his fathering heart was inclusive and warm. In his company, no matter how rarely you visited, you felt like you were family.

Jesus spoke often about His Father. I sometimes wonder what kind of friction that generated within His own natural family and whether his half brothers and sisters struggled with the knowledge that His Father was different to their father. Once, when He was teaching a large crowd, His mother and brothers stood outside wanting to see Him. When told, He pointed to His gathered disciples and said: “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” (Matt. 12:46-50).

Hmmm…..not exactly a statement conducive to family harmony I would think.

As far as Jesus’ brothers and sisters were concerned of course, they were doing the will of God, and doing it well. They observed the Law and kept the Feasts (Luke 2:27, 2:41, Jn. 7:2-10).   So where does older brother Jesus get off implying otherwise? And Jesus ‘difficult’ attitude wasn’t just a family misunderstanding. He meant what He said and demonstrated it even in His final agonising hours. Jewish custom required the next brother in line to take on the care of a widowed mother should the oldest male child die. But in a dramatic departure from tradition Jesus, from the Cross, pointedly entrusted the future care of his mother to His friend and disciple John (Jn. 19:26,27).

To Jesus, family was spiritually defined rather than naturally defined. His family ties were not to those clinging rigidly to the old traditions of law keeping and ritual. He identified ‘family’ as His disciples who included tax collectors, sinners, prostitutes, widows, the poor, the disabled, and all those who normal Jewish society would have labelled misfits. His ‘family’ was anyone who knew their desperate spiritual condition and their need for a Saviour. The will of the Father they sought to obey was simply to receive His Son (Jn.1:12,13; 5:23; 6:45).

Jesus was passionate about expanding revelation of His Father beyond the fearful, thundering God who had handed down the Law to Moses (Exodus 19). He wanted ‘brothers and sisters’ who could begin to know His Father as He knew Him: a Father they could relate to intimately and who fervently desired to make Himself known to them. To Philip’s desperate demand: “Show us the Father!” Jesus had responded: “Don’t you yet understand, Philip, if You see Me, you have seen the Father! There is not a shadow of difference between Him and me!” (Jn. 14:8,9, paraphrase mine).

A father desires children, not acquaintances. A father wants a family, not ritual, ceremony and legalism. And a father wants unhindered daily intimate relationship with his children, not formality and protocol.

In the household of a father each child is individually known with their own chair at the table, their own space to rest their head, their own shelter under his arm.   Each has their father’s ear to listen and his hand to guide. Each has his shoulders to climb onto when the world becomes too much. Each one’s voice is recognised and responded to appropriately. Each one inherently knows that in their father’s household their entitlement to ‘belong’ is unquestioned. In the Kingdom household of Father God, each child fits, including those of us who have not known or have not enjoyed a safe and fulfilling relationship with their natural father.

When Jesus pointed to the crowd around Him and called them His sisters and brothers and mother, He was not belittling His natural family. He was rejecting traditional, worldly ideas of loyalty to demonstrate the higher way of the Kingdom He’d come to announce. In the Kingdom, that which makes us brothers and sisters is not a common bloodline, but a common Father.

The shared purpose of this family of God’s children is to love and follow His Son Jesus Christ (Jn. 8:42). We will only recognise our Father in our spiritual brothers and sisters through the filter of personally beholding Christ.

A tradition has grown in some areas of organised Christianity of addressing others as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ as if it is our unconditional right to do so. In the Kingdom, however, we are not brothers and sisters through attending the same church, holding the same religious traditions, or being of the same skin colour, social class or political beliefs. Our spiritual brother and sisterhood are determined entirely by our response to our Father.

If we have chosen to seek first the Kingdom, more and more we are going to find ourselves misfits in this world, including in our jobs, our communities, our churches and possibly even among our relatives. We are walking in the footsteps of Christ. Jesus was, in many ways, the ‘black sheep’ among His natural kin. He was unacceptable in His home town because He didn’t conform to what was expected of ‘the carpenter’s son” (Matt. 13:55,56). He was despised by the religious leaders of His nation because His message threatened the status quo. And for a while even His family seem to have rejected Him. (Where were His natural brothers and sisters during His crucifixion?)

In the Kingdom, however, there are no misfits, only beloved children – each one excitedly anticipated, welcomed and celebrated; each with his or her own unique place in the family; each cherished, nurtured and unconditionally loved. There is no limit to our Father’s desire for children or His ability to care for them.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Jn. 1:12,13

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Photo courtesy of: ‘podpad’ http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

When Jesus Wept

jesus-wept

When Jesus wept at Bethany

What sorrow did His heart conceive?

Was it unbelief in all its masks

That caused His overflowing grief?

That human eyes that day conveyed

While human tongues unknown betrayed?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Did He weep for you and me?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

What aching filled His gentle soul?

Knowing well our history

Did He glimpse the unrelenting toll

Of pain and grief and misery

That death has cost humanity?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Did He weep for you and me?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Did creation gasp with soft surprise

And angels gaze with puzzled eyes?

Did earth and Heaven hold their breath

While tears rolled down the face of Him

The Resurrection and the Life?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Did He weep for you and me?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Did His tears fall down to stain the land?

To mingle with the sinless blood

That Calvary would soon demand?

Did blood and sweat from Gethsemane

Join their flow into the flood?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Did He weep for you and me?

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

Perchance He stood by all of us

And mixed His tears with yours and mine

And claimed our suffering as His own

That none of us who weep and ache

Could ever say we wept alone

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

He wept for you, He wept for me

 

When Jesus wept at Bethany

His weeping crossed eternity

And entered every human tear

That was or is or soon will be

That in our loss and in our pain

We should know the cost is paid

 

And sorrow’s depth was plumbed by He

Who wept with us at Bethany

 

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

 

Featured Poem for August: The Flame

White Rose

Song of Solomon 8:6,7 

There is a Flame

That burns intense

Unquenched

By many dark waters

Fuelled by divine passion

Ceaseless, vehement, unspent

 

There is a Flame

That burns ardent

Kindled by Love Himself

Before Light danced

In Eden’s garden

Or humanity drew breath

 

There is a Flame

That burns transcendent

Of which all other flames

Are but shadows

And all earth’s lovers cameos

To its unyielding intent

 

There is a Flame

That burns eternal

Fanned by God’s pure Breath

Held in Love’s Being

Raging from Eternity past

Within Beloved’s breast

 

There is a Flame

That burns contagious

Ignited by Heaven’s embrace

On souls courageous

Surrendering ever to its

Costly blaze

 

There is a Flame

That burns unchanged

Beyond the reach of time or age

There is an all consuming Flame

And I

Its glad captive

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Exploring Community Part Three: Hierarchy and Leadership

community

Where does hierarchy fit in with authentic Christian community? What role, if any, does leadership have to play? These are questions many of us are struggling with as God continues to lead us out of ‘playing church’ into the day to day reality of Kingdom life. I offer the following two suggestions for consideration in the hope they will positively contribute to our search for genuine Christian community:

1.The absence of hierarchy does not have to mean absence of order;  and

2. The presence of leadership does not have to mean hierarchy, domination or control;

When believers consider the Three in One nature of God there is often a vague assumption that the Father is in charge and the Son and the Spirit are second and third respectively. I believe, however, the scripture is clear that there is no hierarchy within Elohyim. (For the sake of brevity I won’t go into my reasons for that belief here but I have written elsewhere about it in Hierarchy, Headship and All That Stuff which is easily accessible on this blogsite.)

The Father, Son and Spirit belong to one another willingly and without reservation in community, yet without the concept of exclusive ownership that we often subconsciously attach to the word ‘belong’. None of the three divine Members of Elohyim seek to rule over the other two Members, yet within this non-hierarchical environment there is perfect order.

Some who have witnessed abusive leadership within organised Christianity subsequently reject any place for human leadership at all within the Body of Christ. But the New Testament speaks both of a gift of leadership, and functional leadership gifts given by Christ to His church¹. Furthermore, Jesus did not rebuke His disciples for seeking to exercise leadership skills; He rebuked them rather for the carnal manner in which they sought to exercise that leadership through the hierarchical model they saw displayed in the world around them². He told them they would need to learn a new and revolutionary form of leadership that they had never witnessed before.

Just as there is authentic and non-authentic community, (see Part Two), so too is there authentic and non-authentic spiritual leadership. Genuine, God-endorsed leadership grows out of a desire to follow God, not a desire to gain followers.   We speak frequently about “servant leadership’, but one cannot be a servant of God’s people if one is not first and foremost a surrendered servant of God. True servant style leadership is essentially an act of service and worship, focused God-ward, not man-ward. Hierarchy, on the other hand, is the structure carnal authority builds around itself to maintain some semblance of perceived order and strengthen its power base.

Authentic, God-endorsed leadership doesn’t need the hierarchy on which organised religion is built because genuine spiritual authority does not require a man-made structure in which to operate. That doesn’t mean there are not examples of genuine leadership gifts within organised Christianity, but genuine spiritual authority will be evident regardless of whether or not it has the approval and recognition of an organisation. And often, too often, authentic gifts of leadership are hindered, stifled, and controlled by those who have found a comfortable niche within a hierarchical environment.

Jesus demonstrated a non-hierarchical leadership model that was radical and confronting both to His disciples and the religious leadership of His day.  At all times His leadership was evidenced by a genuine spiritual authority that was recognizable to those around Him³. He did not impose His will on people by emphasising that authority, or as we might say today, “throwing His weight around.” Those who recognised His authority He invited to join Him. Some did, some didn’t, but He didn’t rant against those who rejected His authority, labelling them as heretics and rebels.

Jesus never sought to prove His authority, even when faced with death⁴. He knew the level of spiritual authority He walked in and trusted the Father to confirm it. His leadership was an offering, God directed, not man directed. This is the authentic servant leadership He modelled for us.

Within the community of Three in One Elohyim none is less and none is more. Each Member is fully valued, fully functional, fully united in purpose and will, yet different in expression. Each delights in the Others’ fullness. We, in our fallen state, have yet to learn how we are to walk together in this kind of community if we are to be a Bride who reflects Christ on this earth.

There can be no true, fully functioning spiritual community where hierarchy exists. Hierarchical leadership is always dependent on the continual submission of someone other than the ‘perceived’ leader. Mutual submission one to another as we recognise Christ in each other is entirely Biblical. Requiring other individuals or groups to submit to us without reciprocity on an ongoing basis based purely on gender, race, title, position, or seminary training is not.

In Part Two I said the first result of the Fall was broken fellowship between Elohyim and humanity. The second result of the Fall was broken fellowship within the first human community, male and female. This male/female fracture is the oldest human division that exists, older even than racial division. It is entirely possible for us as God’s people to receive and embrace one another free of racial, social, economic and other divisions, yet still be clinging to hierarchy when it comes to gender relationships.

Christian community, to be complete and authentic, must be an inclusive atmosphere where both genders are free to exercise all their potential spiritual giftings and give and receive from one another without restriction, as it was in the beginning. This freedom to function as equals between male and female is foundational to true community, including in marriage, which was the first human community. Until hierarchy, i.e. the need to rule, is no longer an issue in either the home or the church, we will not experience spiritual community as God initiated it and desires it among us, for the broken fellowship between the genders will remain unhealed. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is addressing this injustice within the Body of Christ and many are having their eyes open on this issue.

We have built a religious system in which we have mistakenly equated hierarchy with order, and in doing so we have controlled, quenched and excluded the Holy Spirit who was the only One charged with organising us⁵.  We have failed to discern true spiritual authority from false and have too willingly handed leadership to those whose authority is carnal. We have thought to do community by our meetings, our programs, our conferences, our agendas, our doctrines, our law keeping, our endless activities; but we have failed to learn to simply be the living, vibrant extended community of Elohyim to one another.

But God is not finished with us. From the beginning it has been covenant that has been at the heart of true community. Our covenant is first with Christ, and through Christ it is then with every other genuine Christ follower. It is only as we immerse ourselves ever more deeply into covenant relationship with Christ that we will increasingly participate in the community of Elohyim and discover that same mysterious Community present and vibrant among ourselves.

¹Romans 12:8, Eph. 4:8-12

²Matthew 20:25-28

³ Matt. 8:5-10; Mark 1:22, 27; Luke 4:32,36;

⁴ Matt. 26:53

⁵ John 14:16, 26

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Related Articles:

Exploring Community Part One

Exploring Community Part Two

Exploring Community Part Two: True and False Community

community

We have seen how the very essence of authentic community lies within the mystery of Three in One Elohyim: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwelling eternally as vibrant, living, loving community among Themselves. We have seen how humanity is incapable of creating community, for it is not created, it is imparted. Apart from ongoing connection to its source, Elohyim, humanity is unable to maintain authentic community. (See Part One)

Here it becomes important to distinguish between authentic community and unauthentic community. We live in a world where we are constantly being told we are now members of a ‘global community’. Any apparent evidence of a ‘community spirit’ being demonstrated in our neighbourhoods, our towns or our nations is automatically considered a good thing. But is this the same as being members of one another¹ as the New Testament describes Christian community?  Is it the ‘koinonia’ fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit that Christ-followers are called to²?

There is a sense of community available in the world that is rooted in a common crisis (e.g. a natural disaster), a common cause (e.g. ideology, sport) or a common experience (e.g. war, injustice, trauma). Nationalism, for instance, is an example of this kind of community spirit on a grand scale. We rally around the common experience of what it is be (in my case) an Australian, an Italian, a Scot or an American, or whatever the case may be. To be sustained this sort of community spirit needs to be continuously stirred and reinforced, for once the crisis passes, the cause is resolved or the common experience forgotten, it fades.

Christ, however, is not a crisis, a cause or an experience. He is Life. We, as Christ followers, have been called back into the vibrant, thriving, pulsating community of Life that exists in Elohyim, through fellowship with the Son by the ministry of the Spirit. This Christ-fellowship is a mystery, unbound by earthly entrapments of race, gender or class, administered from Heaven and flowing through to those who are Christ’s in order to bind them together as a spiritual community or family³.

How then, we ask, will we know when this true spiritual community is present and functioning among believers? I believe we may have been asking the wrong question. The first step is to cease trying to BE community and to receive by faith that we, as believers, ARE community. The difficulty is not in becoming community, for in Christ that is already being accomplished for us⁴. Our difficulty lies in allowing the Divine Community to manifest through us to one another.

From the beginning humanity was welcomed and embraced by the Divine Community of Father, Son and Spirit. Elohyim anticipated us, creating us in His very own image so that He could invite us into the heart of the unique community He enjoyed in His Three in Oneness.

The first result of the Fall was broken fellowship with Elohyim. When, through deception and sin, humanity fell out of community, Elohyim in His all surpassing Love immediately sought to bring back the one who had gone missing. There was no need for discussion or debate within the Three in One, in the same way as there would be no need for discussion or debate if a precious loved one of our own went missing. We would do whatever it might take to search, rescue and deliver that one back into our embrace. So much more was there perfect unity of will, purpose and action within the Three in One over missing humanity. Before humanity departed from the Garden Elohyim was already prophesying His plan for restoration⁵.

Within the Divine Community of Elohyim, perfect Love is constantly flowing, not as something Elohyim does, but as Who He is. Perfect Love is the means through which the perfect Life that is Elohyim expresses Himself.

In seeking to live our lives within an atmosphere of authentic Christian community, we seek to find our way back to the freedom of Perfect Love fellowship we knew in the beginning. Freedom is simply the absence of fear, and Perfect Love always casts out fear⁶.

We seek both to give and receive a Love that expresses life, not death; faith, not fear; freedom, not bondage. We seek an environment where Utterance, Breath and Life are present as the senior Members of our community. Utterance, the Word, will be honoured, not as law but as Life. Life will be flowing abundantly, spilling over from one member to the next. Breath will always be evident, manifesting Himself without hindrance, for where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And over all Love will provide the measure and the balance in all things.

I will be the first to admit I have yet to find an ongoing expression of this Divine Community flowing deeply, widely and continuously in the Body of Christ on earth. Like many others, I have glimpsed it briefly, tasted it momentarily, and yearned for its manifestation in fullness. But I believe passionately it is within reach as we learn to yield, abandoning ourselves without reservation to the Spirit of God, who is the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. As we have found Life in the Spirit, so will the Spirit lead us, if we are willing to walk with Him, until we emerge as the expression of Divine Community on earth⁷.

What are your thoughts on ‘Christian community’?  Please join the discussion!

Part Three of Exploring Community to follow soon.

¹Rom. 12:5; Eph. 4:25

²Phl. 2:1; 1 John 1:3

³Eph. 3:1-19; Gal. 3:26-29

⁴John 17:22,23

⁵Gen. 3:15

⁶1 John 4:18, Col. 3:14

⁷Gal. 5:25

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

Exploring Community Part One: In the Beginning

community

In the beginning Elohyim¹, the One God who is True and who Lives, the God who is Three in One, the God besides whom there is no other god².

And this true, living God who is perfect Oneness is also a community of three divine personalities: the Father, divine Lifegiver; the Son, divine Utterance; and the Spirit, divine Breath. In the eternal community of Elohyim each Member is covenantally connected to the other two Members. Disunity, desire for dominion and conflict are unknown. Within this community of absolute love working through absolute authority, unbroken Oneness flows continuously between the Members in perfect fluidity of purpose, intention and will.

Somewhere in the boundless realms of everlasting, Elohyim God, the Three who are One, chose to express His great, unlimited love through the act of creation. Breath brooded in travailing devotion willing forth all that was in Elohyim’s mind; Utterance gave voice to Elohyim’s intention declaring “Let there be…..”, calling forth light from darkness, order from disorder, shape and form from nothingness; and Lifegiver sealed Elohyim’s purpose, which is always abundant Life, pouring Himself into all that was being created.

But even though Elohyim God saw all that was brought forth was good³, still He desired something more: a further expression of Himself beyond that which had been already created, a vessel with which to share His perfect community of Oneness.

So Elohyim, the Three who are One, chose to create humanity: “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ……”⁴. From the dust of the earth Utterance called forth form into the body of  a new being, Breath entered to create a place for Elohyim to dwell, and Lifegiver poured in vibrant, endless Life. The first human being was created containing all that was needed to reproduce life, breath and utterance after his own kind. And in this created human did Utterance, Breath and Lifegiver ordain that His own Image of Three-in-Oneness should be reflected, in the form of body, soul and spirit⁵. And into this being He also poured His likeness, which is His goodness.

No other created life form expressed the divine Three in One community in such perfection. Though other creation had received a measure of Life and Breath⁶, no other had been endowed with a holy, spiritual sanctuary for Elohyim’s co-habitation, and on no other had the creative power of Utterance been bestowed. To this being alone did Three in One Elohyim reveal Himself in fullness.

Even so, Elohyim God was not yet entirely satisfied, for it was not good ‘for the man to be alone.’⁷ The created human had been ushered into Divine Community, yet had no means of expressing or growing community with his own kind. So in the counsel of His own perfect wisdom Elohyim removed a part of the human, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and formed another being with which he might experience oneness.

When Elohyim brought the two together, the first human community was born: the community of one male and one female. The same in essence but different in expression, they were perfect counterparts, equal to one another in value and authority, each bearing the image of Elohyim God. Each belonged to Elohyim and to the other freely and unconditionally in perfect covenantal community, devoid of desire for dominion or conflict of will, reflecting the Divine Community that was their life source. And it was Elohyim’s clear desire for the membership of this initial expression of perfect human community to increase, for He blessed them and said: “Be fruitful and multiply.”⁸

It was only then that Elohyim looked on all He had done and was deeply satisfied, declaring that His workmanship was abundantly, exceedingly good⁹.

But when humanity fell from perfection to corruption through sin, we lost our perfect communion with Elohyim and with one another. The unbroken community of oneness between male and female was shattered. Rather than reproducing offspring in the image of God, future generations would bear the fallen image of Adam¹⁰. Human communities went on to experience ever increasing division through jealousies, greed, contentions, murder and all manner of catastrophic disputes. Families separated into clans, which then became tribes, which then became nations. War and tyranny became normal human experience and so it goes.

The Fall robbed humanity of any ability to maintain community. Even with the best and noblest intentions, man simply cannot create true and authentic community, for community did not originate with man but in the Three-in-Oneness of Elohyim. All true community must flow forth from that divine source, for it is from that long ago knowledge of Oneness humanity still remembers and yearns for the sense of belonging we commonly call ‘community’.

Part Two of Exploring Community coming soon.

¹Genesis 1:1

²Deuteronomy 4:39

³Genesis 1:25

⁴Genesis 1:26a

⁵Genesis 2:7

⁶Acts 17:25 NASB

⁷Genesis 2:18

⁸Genesis 1:28

⁹Genesis 1:31

¹⁰Genesis 5:1-3

© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2014   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.

What are your thoughts on Christian community? Please join the discussion!