community, friendship and Christlikeness

I read the following passage on the value and necessity of community and the body of Christ this morning.  In an age and society that values independence and leads our focus to ourselves, I appreciated this reminder of how the interaction and cooperation of the body of Christ enhances the beauty that God has placed within us as His children and His church.  The beauty that is revealed as we become more like Christ.  And the beauty that reflects His glory as we laugh, cry and live together – as we grow together.  And through the body and friendship, we come to know God in a way that we could not do on our own.

“C.S. Lewis was part of a famous circle of friends called the Inklings, which included J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, and also the author Charles Williams, who died unexpectedly after World War II.  In his book The Four Loves, Lewis wrote a striking meditation on his death in an essay entitled “Friendship.”

In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets.  Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke.  Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. . . In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God.  For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.  That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3).  The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.

“Lewis is saying that it took a community to know an individual.  How much more would this be true of Jesus Christ?  Christians commonly say that they want to “get to know Jesus better.  You will never be able to do that by yourself.  You must be deeply involved in the church, in Christian community, with strong relationships of love and accountability.  Only if you are part of a community of believers seeking to resemble, serve, and love Jesus will you ever get to know him and grow into his likeness.”
 – Tim Keller, “The Prodigal God”, p. 126-127

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