Saturday, January 26, 2008

community (and blogging)

Community is inherent in us being made in God's image. God is a relational being: Father, Son and Spirit. So humankind wants community, because this is inherent in our makeup as Eikons (meaning, image-bearers) of God.

God knew it was not good for Adam to be alone; the animals weren't sufficient. From one of Adam's ribs, God made Eve. At last he was complete. We indeed are made for the Lord, and for each other.

Sin has messed up, or probably better- disrupts true community. Adam and Eve did not know how good they had it, until they lost it, in their shame and alienation from God and from each other. But this part of our humanity, this longing for relationship won't let us go, unless we're too far gone in our sin and living as less than human.

Sin is inherenly "me-centered" and therefore not relational since it's anti-God and therefore anti-human. Jesus came to bring us back to God and to each other. This is what the gospel is all about: God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, and breaking down the walls that divide humanity. Bringing us to himself and to each other. Christ having becoming sin (or made a sin offering) for us, that in him (by simple faith) we might be made the righteousness of God (or made right with God in every way, ultimately).

We're to proclaim this good news, and implore others to so be reconciled. First in how we live, but part of that is words we say, after listening well- first to God, and then to the other.

I realize blogging has its limitations in that none of us have really met. We've met through words, sometimes through pictures, but we've neither seen each other or heard each other, face to face. Yet when we read Paul, we see his heart went out to believers he hadn't met, in the love of Jesus.

For me blogging is about sharing with each other God's work in our lives, and about helping others who may not know, by faith, this God for themselves. For me blogging is not only about dispensing truth, but about fellowship and community in the truth. In the Truth himself, who is Jesus. And in Jesus, finding our way back to the relationship with God and with each other in God, that can begin even now, as we await its completion and perfection to be realized when Jesus returns. What a wonderful day that will be!

What are your thoughts on community (and blogging)?

16 comments:

jps said...

Ted,

Amen to that! Although blogging has its limitations, there have been many times when you or another blogger have said exactly what I needed to hear. And, there have been occasions where I have put up a prayer request (like now), and the response has been wonderful as God's people pray for one another and encourage one another.

Keep posting!

James

Maalie said...

For me, blogging started as a means of keeping in touch with my sons and friends and letting them know what I am up to. It has evolved into a sort of travelogue and record of birding activities.

It has also got me into some challenging discussions and debates!
Thank you for visiting mine.

Ted M. Gossard said...

James, Thanks. And am praying for your daughter and son-in-law and family and the little one.

Here's James' blog and his daughter and son-in-law's blog for any of you who would like to pray for the health of this little one soon to be delivered.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Maalie,
Yes, your blogging is most interesting. And I enjoy getting to know other people and kind of just getting acquainted kind of thing, along with trying to listen and understand the thoughts and perspectives of others.

I have followed some of the debates, though really too long for me to track all of it due to time constraints- on Susan's (Halfmom Susan) blog, JD's (Voice of Vision) blog and I guess there was another blog, as well. Interesting.

Thanks for leaving a comment here and the very best to you over there across the pond.

Andrew said...

Well, certainly a blog, of all things, ended up bringing me and Susan--and through her, Olivia--together. It's weird how that works. It's so easy to disparage the Internet's communication tools as creating distance and disconnectedness among people; and certainly they can in the wrong hands. But obviously there's good in it, in giving people separated by miles a connection through words.

Did you say you went to school in Grand Rapids? Where--Calvin? Cornerstone? And you're right: it certainly is "Reformed country" around there.

I suppose I may end up being a professor someday, but certainly not in some solely academic sense. If anything of the sort were to happen, I'd want to be a "prof for the people" (I suppose there is some sort of cool Latin phrase for that), like Michael Horton is. But more so, I think I see myself teaching the church in Turkey or the Middle East, where seminaries are forbidden but "seminars" are not.

lorenzothellama said...

Hi Ted. Thanks for popping over! Have you seen Martin's blog recently? He's madder than ever!

Maalie's younger son set up my blog for me just over a year ago and I have had the most enormous fun on it. I have met some brilliant people and I feel I have friends in New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Austria and the US as well as new people in Britain.

Love Lorenzo.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Andrew,
Thanks for stopping by. Getting readers like you makes me want to be all the more careful and less sloppy in how I express truth- as I just now edited my paragraph beginning how sin has messed up, to disrupting true community. How like us who are into theology, as you know.

I agree about your thouhts on the Internet. Words are powerful, and can convey a true and potent sense of who we are. I would caution people who are hard on the communication over the Internet, especially Christians, since we rely on a Book completely in theological profession, and largely in reality- for our faith, and the belief and practice of it.

I went to Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, of Cornerstone University- itself at the time anyhow, very Calvinistic, at least compared to most Baptists here in the United States (then called Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary).

I have great respect for Calvin Theological Seminary- (I think Cornelius Plantinga still is president there, and comes once a year to speak at our chapel at RBC Ministries, and wrote a tremendous book on sin: "Not the Way It's Supposed to BE: a breviary of sin", I read recently.

And Calvin College and Seminary (Christian Reformed Church) has helped Cornerstone in key and especially foundational ways, at Cornerstone's (then GR Baptist College) inception and beyond. Calvin's great library has a special room of some of John Calvin's works- I think dating back to his time.

Also nearby Holland (home of the Tulip Festival) has Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, of the Reformed Church of America.

It is a most interesting area and different than so much of evangelical Christianity, in their theological paradigm and worldview.

I really like what you have to say about the kind of professor you would be. That is exactly the kind we need. Scot McKnight, like Michael Horton, is like that. We need scholars who can write and speak clearly for the church. Calvin and Luther did the same, I think, to a good extent. I probably go overboard trying to be simple; as much as I love theology and even the academic, I think it's the pastor within me (or at least heart in that direction).

I'll be interested in following your life and praying for you in your journey.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Lorenzo,
Your very good at what you do with your blog. I love the pics and your descriptive language along with the humor.

It is fun getting to meet new people in this way, and it's been truly fun getting to meet you.

And oh yes, I'll have to stop by at Martin's again. I did so earlier today, and I know I have a little more catching up to do.

Mary said...

I started my blog really as a journal, since I do much better typing my journals than writing them. But I provided friends and family the link since it was easier for me to not only keep them up to date, but also for me to share myself in a seemingly less invasive way. I've been told by a few that I write too much, that I need to stop posting such long blogs...but I'm not writing it to please other people, I'm writing to share myself and ultimately to please God. But I suspect my long posts are probably why people don't really comment. Seems like the blogging community goes for short and to the point blogs...accepting multiple short blogs in one day rather than one long one every few days or so. I dunno, just my observation.

So my blog remains largely quiet in the community sense, however I have enjoyed meeting some of the people that have taken time to comment...and in turn, I've really enjoyed discovering new blogs to read from those commenters.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Mary,
L.L. Barkat has a creative, I suppose more general blog: Seedlings in Stone". But she has a couple sideblogs, one more like a journal between herself and God, that she lets the rest of us look into and enjoy.

You might consider doing something like that.

I do agree that longer posts do repel readers. I learned much of what I do and how I blog from Scot McKnight and his blog, Jesus Creed.

Yes, for me meeting people like you has been such a blessing. I may put too much strength in "meeting" since it's the blogosphere, but being a person who loves words, I think we can pick up so much from others throught their words, when done in truth and love, and in Jesus. And with others, all of us made in God's image, as we appreciate and enjoy fellowship with them, and hopefully can help them to enter and enjoy our fellowship together, in Jesus.

NaNcY said...

interesting thoughts here.

it has been a learning experience to enter into blogging. learning about the blog world and seeing some of the changes take place. experiencing the sense of relationship with others. learning more about myself through this writing and communication with others. seeing that God can work through blog relationships as well as those that take place with those that we meet face to face. i find it interesting to see how the connection and overlapping of connection takes place here. it shows me a little of how God works and how important relationship to Him and to others is.

praise God

jps said...

Thanks, Ted, for posting the link. We appreciate all the prayers.

James

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, Nancy. I little understand or appreciate just how much blogging has revolutionized my life. Better put, how God has used this in my life. It started with Scot McKnight's "Jesus Creed" for me- and I still go back there- and has brought others along who have been a blessing to me, such as yourself. And yes, we do learn so much in the process of giving and receiving, in all of this.

I do like the interactive relational aspect of it, not just the dissemination of ideas and knowledge. Of course being carriers of the gospel and those of truth and love/grace and truth, in Jesus, are so important for us Christian bloggers.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, James. Am praying. And hope more and more help through prayers, in this situation (see earlier comments, above).

Every Square Inch said...

Ted

Thanks for reminding us of the perfect community exemplified in the Trinity.

With regard to blogging community, it isn't the same as a "physical" community but that doesn't mean that it isn't real. It's just different.

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI,
Yes, I agree. It's very real, though with its limitations to be sure. But it should no be underestimated. Words have plenty of power in themselves, as we read in Proverbs, and we live according to the word of God, so we're dependent on words to a large degree.

But still we're made for a fuller communion than just words (and to a word person like myself, that can foolishly for me, be a little tough to swallow). For nothing less than the end to increasingly participate in the communion of the Trinity, together in our completed humanity, in Jesus (as now God is finishing, this good work began in us, in Jesus).

Thanks.