By Rev Dr Clive Chin
Christians need to remind ourselves that we are not saved unto themselves but into a corporate community (1 Cor. 12:12 – 27). TOGETHER we are in Christ Jesus! Christian relationships, an integral element in building community, is at the heart of knowing God. Our faith journey is one that we make together. Community is the context for growth and is a distinctively Christian phenomenon.
The doctrine of the Trinity—God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—serves as a biblical paradigm for building Christian community, where members of the Triune Godhead are bonded together in interdependent relationships. Throughout the Bible, we see the distinct persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet they relate to one another in unity. The statement “Let Us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26) indicates that we were created to reflect God’s interdependence between members of the Triune Godhead.
Such interdependence is richly illustrated in John’s gospel, as the Son came to represent and reveal the Father while the Spirit carries out the fulfillment of claims made by the Son. Scripture shows the connectedness and interdependence between members of the Godhead. For example, Jesus’ work was the Father’s work—the Father doing it through him. Jesus completed the Father’s agenda (Jn. 4:34; 5:36). There is no hint of independent separation of an autonomous person in the Godhead, where each person “did his own thing.”
Furthermore, Jesus was dependent upon the Father’s words for his teaching (Jn. 14:24; cf. Jn. 8:26, 28, 38). The ultimate motivation for Jesus’ obedience was to please the Father (Jn. 5:30; 8:29). Likewise, the Holy Spirit joins in on this shared ministry. Jesus sends the Spirit to minister to believers (Jn. 16:7). As such, the Spirit glorifies Jesus (cf., Jn. 16:14). Note the interactive involvement in the Spirit’s arrival as recorded in Jn. 14:26. The Father sends the Spirit, yet the Spirit is sent “in the name of Jesus” as from him. The Spirit then reminds us of Jesus’ teaching, not his own.
How can we apply this teaching in building Christian community? Paul’s words are helpful: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Gal. 2:20). As members of a community of faith, we must die to self. The process of dying ensures that we do not allow our ego or pride to come in the way of relationships, both with God and others. Dying to self is, in fact, the only way to overcome self-sufficiency and build a community that is truly Christian.