Whom Shall We Partner
When Christ prayed that those who believe in Him through the witness of His disciples would be one, He set in motion a vision of redemption that calls us beyond individual relationship with God. The vision of God is that we enter into fellowship with one another as a community of redeemed persons.
Christ prayed that we would enter into the same quality of relationship and fellowship as He and the Father share. The Triune God has eternally been in fellowship—a kind of fellowship that is other-oriented—the very essence of God.
“In the beginning the Word was with [pros] God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with [pros] God.” (John 1:1) The word with in this instance may be summarized as “toward.” The Son was toward—that is, other-oriented—the Father. The essence of the triune fellowship was to put the interests of others ahead of one’s own as the mind of Christ is described by Paul in Philippians 2:3-5.
Similarly, this will be our posture as redeemed individuals in the Body of Christ, or the Church. The Church is a community of faith expressed in many ways historically, culturally, and theologically. Yet we may consider this array of expressions from three perspectives that reflect the light of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Just as white light contains the full range of colors in purity, so Creator, Jesus, and Spirit embody the fullness of God. God is revealed to us in each, as it were, in different colors of the spectrum. Creator (green) is the creation revelation. Jesus (red) is the salvation revelation, and Spirit (blue) is the personal revelation.
In the Church different faith communities have emerged that represent an emphasis on each of these revelations. For example, green emphasize tolerance & social justice; red focus on evangelism & discipleship; blue highlight emotional health & spiritual power. Preferably, in our personal walk of faith over time we will come to know the living Triune God from the perspective of each focus.
Similarly, over time we come to know this Triune God more fully through our fellowship and service with those who express God’s light and life from a different focus. As we recognize our individual imbalance in perspective, we can move “toward” the complementary perspective of others. As a result, we come to a greater fullness of knowing God.
Knowing God in a Trinitarian way brings us into a dynamic fullness where we are radically Christ-centered, radically ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit, and radically focused on God’s creation.
A full biblical understanding of the Triune God leads us to avoid the dangers associated with isolation, or over emphasis, of just one perspective (color). If we focus only on the reflective dimension [creation], we end up with rationalism. If we emphasize only the proactive dimension [salvation], we end up with activism. If we exclusively focus on the affective dimension [personal], we end up in emotionalism.
Jesus prayed that we would enter in to the fullness of oneness with the Father and Son and with one another as those who believe that the Father sent the Son (John 17:20-21, 23). The Holy Spirit guides us into that fullness (John 16:14, 15, 27). To enter in also involves recognition of the strengths and limitations of our own perspective and that of others.
Together we can be a Church that fulfills the biblical mandates to focus on society, evangelism, and spiritual power, and Lancaster County will become a transformed community. A transformed community is, respectively:
* A neighborhood, city or nation whose values and institutions are characterized by the grace and presence of God.
* A location where values of God’s Kingdom are celebrated publicly and passed on to future generations.
* A society in which the natural forces of decline are reversed by invasive supernatural power.
With whom then would the Lord have us partner?
For a more thorough treatment of Trinitarian perspective of individual and corporate transformation, see Color Your World with Natural Church Development by Christian A. Schwarz, Church Smart Resources, 2005.