Building the Faith Community

In Christ, we, though many, form one body. Each member belongs to all the others.

Rom 12: 5

We are constantly engaged in being part of community building. While we affirm that we are many, each different and unique in specific ways, we also affirm that the many can together form one body. The transition from the ‘many’ to the ‘one’ is not easy. It affirms the manifold levels and nuances of variedness, commits for inclusion of all and strives to be the “one” body. Each is connected to the whole and the whole is committed to each. This brings in each a sense of belonging in and ownership of the whole.

Community of the Gospel

For any community to integrate itself into a whole a basic unifying factor is inevitable. What brings us together as a community is the affirmation “In Christ”. It is Christ the person who brings us together as a community and gives us the identity that we cherish, making us the community of the Gospel. It is Christ who draws us first to him with abundance of love and then draws us to each other sharing the love that Christ made manifest. The essence that keeps the community together, ever vibrant and relevant, is the good news of being in Christ, an experience that each cherishes as a salvation experience and each long to share with the world around as a missional experience.

Community of Grace

It is God’s unmerited favour that makes each person worthy to be part of this community- seeking the good, perfect and pleasing will of God. Grace leaves no space to evil but instead constantly seek the good of all. It helps each to be devoted to one another in love and honor the others above oneself.

Grace excludes none. It includes and embraces all and always have a preferential option for the marginalised and the vulnerable.

Grace helps us acknowledge multiplicity of cultures and to ensure the space due to each within the fabric of the community.

Grace affirms the multi-generational nuances in the efforts to quill the visions of the community

Grace weaves together the different threads into a colourful whole, wherein each becomes inevitable for the beauty to be complete.

Grace is always willing to let go but like the father of the son who went away waits for the return of the ones who flew away from the nest.

Grace affirms that small is beautiful and builds small and well-knit communities of care.

Grace reaches out to the other always only with love a blessing. It clothes each one in the community with a culture of love.

Grace is concerned about life and therefore constantly positions itself against all forms of injustice, violence and ruthlessness. It is burdened about climate crisis, migration, discrimination, exclusion  and all such maladies that affect fullness of life to ALL.

Grace is committed to safe space for all, very specially the vulnerable.

Community of Gifts.

Romans 12: 6-8 mentions the gifts of the Spirit including prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, giving, leading and showing mercy. These are the gifts that marks the community as unique and special. Prophesying is all about being able to read the signs of the times and constantly choosing to lean on to God’s side when the patterns of the world lures each to confirm to its ways. A meaningful community should always be a serving community, Constant teaching of the ways of God is the foundation of the community. The members ought to keep encouraging each other, especially those who find the going getting tougher must be cared for better. The community should be blessed with good leadership and good governance and is ever committed to be compassionate to people in need. The Gift of Giving is the primary beauty of the community.

Community of Generosity

Romans 12: 12-13 points out five aspects of the community of generosity. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer, sharing with people in need and practicing hospitality, these constitute the DNA of the faith community. Generosity is impossible without being joyful in hope. It must be patient, especially in difficult terrains and should never ever lose faith in the power of prayer.  The last two are the practical expressions of generosity. Sharing with the people in need is the expression of sincere love and it finds its best form when homes and hearts are open for others with a spirit of hospitality- each being welcoming and inviting.

Community of Growth

Romans 12: 11 reminds us Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervour serving the Lord. Every community should be alerted of possible stagnation. This could happen for various reasons but if the zeal that keeps the community vibrant goes missing and the spiritual fervour dims one should be able to understand that, address that, repent where needed and pray for renewal and reformation fully open to a future of restoration and hope.

Growth could be both quantitative and qualitative. As we grow we learn to trust more and more on God and God’s provisions.

Spiritual growth is an oft neglected area in the scientific world of inexplicable pace. The community should persistently provide the resources for spiritual nourishment and mental and emotional health.

Each must be humble enough to acknowledge that divisions and divisiveness does not augur well with growth. This creates in each an urge to bridge the gaps that separate people who ought to be together in community.

Community of Goals

The community sets goals. The long-term goal is the ushering in of the kingdom of God. In the process every effort is made by each to do what is pleasing and acceptable in the eyes of God and of each other. It urges all to live at peace with everyone and in harmony with one another.

(Rom 12:17-18).

Ecumenical vision of greater unity, closer fellowship

Every community should be able to set achievable goals and targets, measurable parameters to assess growth, put in place sustainable and tangible markers of growth and be able to take everyone on board in the journey towards achieving those goals. The joy of participating in the process should be share by all.

True and Proper worship is being able to live a life pleasing in the eyes of God and of each other, individually and more importantly collectively and always embracing the winds of new possibilities of unity.

Vinod Victor

February 1, 2023

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