• Michael Haldas

Community, Individualism and How to Live


"Adam is lonely, already in his prelapsarian state (before “the fall”). Adam is not created as a self-sufficient being, but as one in need of community and companionship. This is not a “deficiency,” but part of Adam’s God-like nature. Adam is created in the image and likeness of God, Who also exists in community; in the Community of Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“We were created in love by God and for God. God reveals this to us at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis when He creates Eve so Adam would have both an equal and a helper as the Scripture states. Even with God by his side in paradise with the animals and nature, Adam felt alone without other human beings. God then created Eve. All humans came from the union of man and woman and depend on that relationship. God created all of us to both help each other and receive help in this life. He made us relational to live in loving community just as He is relational within Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Sacramental Living)

“God created us to crave “community.” We are social beings by nature. There is a saying that “one Christian is no Christian,” and that “no Christian is an island.” Part of our work as Christians is to befriend other Christians so that we can encourage them in their Christianity.” (Father Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)

“…loneliness is a powerful emotion, particularly because it is “natural.” My God-given need for community, like all my “natural” needs, is a major challenge and motivator on my spiritual journey. It motivates me to come out of myself, reaching out to God and other human beings. It motivates our creativity, inspiring great works of art and other forms of self-giving. Conversely, however, the human need for community can drive us to sin, when we search for it in the wrong places." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“People are yearning to discover community. We have had enough loneliness, independence and competition.” (Thea Jarvis)

“Community, hard to define as a term and even more difficult to maintain as an ideal…if we are going to use the word meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly and openly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to 'rejoice together, mourn together,' and to 'delight in each other.” (Christopher Flesoras, M. Scott Peck)

“...community is the unity in diversity of people who embrace their own and each other’s uniqueness, becoming God’s arms, feet, and hands on earth." (Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich)

“Community is more than just the result of preaching the gospel; it is itself a declaration and expression of the gospel.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“As the Holy Trinity, our God is One Being, although Three Persons, so, likewise, we ourselves must be one. As our God is indivisible, we also must be indivisible, as though we were one man, one mind, one will, one heart, one goodness, without the smallest admixture of malice - in a word, one pure love, as God is Love. “That they may be one, even as We are One” [John 17:22].” (St. John of Kronstadt)

“God made us to share communion, fellowship, and mutual support with one another. In [Jeremiah 9] verse 9, He declares that “they cease from being a people.” How can a group of human beings no longer be considered a “people”? The answer is that we stop being a people when we stop being what God made us to be.” (OCPM 10/11/2016)

“God is our creator; we did not create ourselves. Many people live as though they are the creator and center of their own little world. This mind-set leads to pride, greed, idolatry, and if everything should be taken away, a loss of hope itself. But when we realize that God created us and gives us all we have, we will want to give to others as God gave to us.” (Life Application Study Bible, Psalm 100:3)

“God created us to be in mutually dependent relationships with one another yet we spend so much time opposing and mistreating each other.” (Sacramental Living)

“The American ethic of rugged individualism really does go against core teachings of love in Christianity. Society emphasizes self-expression and focus, and personal achievements as ultimate goals, and tells us to follow your bliss and be happy at all costs. It is a self-serving point of view and self-aggrandizement is at the foundation of so much misery in the world.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“Christianity validates the individual as unique and created by God, but emphasizes self-denial in terms of struggling against selfish desires and emptying of ourselves of them so that God can fill us with His Holy Spirit. This helps us live as individuals in the context of community where we focus on what we can do for others, naturally and not through forced effort, and becoming a reflection of Christ as our ultimate goal.” (Sacramental Living)

“Strive to love every one equally, and you will simultaneously expel all the passions.” (Saint Thalassios)

“… modern culture defines the happy life as a life that is “going well”—full of experiential pleasure—while to the ancients, the happy life meant the life that is lived well, with character, courage, humility, love, and justice.” (Nicholas Wolterstorff)

“In our individualistic society, it is easy to forget our interdependence…” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Peter 2:4-8)

“God understands how weak our will is and how easily we are overwhelmed at times, so He sets others at our side. As we falter our friends are there to strengthen us and tug us back from the abyss” (Anne Marie Gazzolo)

“Even the Christian doctrine of God as triune [Father, Son and Holy Spirit], consisting of three persons who have known and loved one another from all eternity, demonstrates that relationships of love are the building blocks of all reality” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“The Trinity is the image of love, and unity in diversity and diversity in unity.” (Timothy Ware)

“The Holy Trinity is one in essence, yet each Person of the Trinity is distinguished by personal characteristics. Relating this to us, one God in three Persons dwelling in perpetual love is the highest example of how we should live with one another. We are all the same in essence but unique in our persons. We too should live in unity made up of our diversity and in a loving state where we care for one another in the spirit of community.” (Sacramental Living,)

“We need the grace of community. We discern our vocation in community, and we fulfill it as we are anchored in mutual interdependence with others in the community. No vocation is fulfilled in a vacuum apart from the needs and experiences of others with whom we live and work. Having a vocation never means that we are freed from the obligations and responsibilities of communal life…This is not all god news; the community, even the community of faith, can be oppressive. The traditions, expectations and cultural patterns of family and community can easily undermine our capacity to become our true selves and to discern our vocation.” (Gordon T. Smith)

“Our conduct has a direct influence on how people think about the gospel. The world doesn’t judge us by our theology; the world judges us by our behavior." (Carolyn Mahaney)

“We must be careful to practice what we preach…Our actions must match our words.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Matthew 21:30)

“It is more important to teach by a life of doing good than to preach in eloquent terms." (St. Isidore of Pelusium)

"Always give good example: teach virtue by your word and deed. Example is more powerful than discourse." (Bl. Henry Suso)

“The Apostle James understood very well how easy it is for us to talk a good game. He gave advice that is wonderfully timely for us when he wrote, "Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to God's word; instead, put it into practice." (James 1:22).

He knew the truth of the old adage which says that actions always speak louder than words, and so he invited us to practice what we say we believe.” (Rev. Andrew Demotses)

"While the monastic life involves a physical separation from the world or from people…most Christians must live within normal society. What’s more, it is often a society that is not Christian and may even be openly hostile to Christian belief and practice. Even if we are living in a big city, getting on with our daily lives along with the rest of society, we are called to renounce the world. In this sense, “the world” means all those things that are opposed to Christ and to our salvation." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“The goal is not to abandon the world, but to keep oneself in Christ and salvage as much as possible from the evil world. Christians renounce the fallenness of the world, not creation itself.” (Orthodox Study Bible, Ephesians 5:15-17)

"A friend of God is the one who lives in communion with all that is natural and free from sin and who does not neglect to do what good he can. The self-controlled man strives with all his might amidst the trials, the snares, and the noise of the world, to be like someone who rises above them." (St. John Climacus)

“To keep ourselves from letting the world corrupt us, we need to commit ourselves to Christ’s ethical and moral system, not the world’s. We are not to adapt to the world’s value system, which is based on money, power, and pleasure. True faith means nothing if we are contaminated with such values.” (Life Application Study Bible, James 1:27)

“...when the world gets worse, Christians must not be distressed or deceived...but rather persevere as good stewards." (Orthodox Study Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12) “Interdependence is the basic structure and dynamic of personal existence. Our humanity depends on our loving disposition, which has its origins in the love of God and of the love as it is given to us by those that love us and we love.” (Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Clapsis)

“In our individualistic society, it is easy to forget our interdependence…There must be a more profound understanding of the interdependence of every single human person with every other single human person…” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Peter 2:4-8, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew)

“Why do we choose independence over interdependence? It’s making us all sad…Instead of independence it is much healthier to live interdependently. When we are interdependent we are prepared to ask people for help and to help people when they need us. We open ourselves up to others and allow others to open themselves up to us. We walk through life together rather than on our own. We build bridges to each other's islands. We learn from each other, we encourage each other, we support each other, we care for each other, we have fun together, we build memories together and we help each other to grow. We realize we are stronger and better as two or more than we are on our own.” (Sara Abell)

“If we consider even the most basic routines of our daily lives, our interdependency will become quite clear. Let us think, for instance, about a popular breakfast food – scrambled eggs. A chicken laid the egg. Once packaged, that egg, along with thousands of others, were taken by a driver to a warehouse or grocery store, where a worker put the packages in a refrigerated case. A check-out clerk completed our order after we paid with the money that we got from the bank machine that the teller filled. I could go on and on, but I’m sure we can acknowledge that there are many other layers between our humble chicken and the egg on our plate that required the participation of many “behind the scenes” people!” (Marianne C. Sailus)

“In order for some people to sit around being still and having deep thoughts, I guarantee you there’s always another group of people running around behind the scenes making it all possible, making sure the space is ready, the food is cooking, the music is prepared, and the atmosphere is just right for the other folks to have this deep spiritual connection in the moment.” (Lillian Daniel)

“Contemplative practice does not mean we live perfect lives, free of judgmental thoughts. It means that we are called day-by-day, moment by moment, to be fully conscious and present to our inner world...The person at work who really annoys us can challenge us to become curious about the thoughts they evoke and we can slowly work to release those thoughts, rather than allow ourselves to get trapped in a spiral of judgment.” (Christine Valters Paintner)

“God calls us to be servants of his Son, demonstrating God’s righteousness and bringing his light....But we must seek his righteousness (Matthew 6:33) before we demonstrate it to others, and let his light shine in us before we can be lights ourselves (Matthew 5:16; 2 Corinthians 4:6)” (Life Application Study Bible, Isaiah 42:6-7)

“If we wish to make any progress in the service of God we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor.” (St. Charles Borromeo)

“The Lord never withdraws His demand for holiness of life …holiness comes from a sincere desire to obey God’s moral standards and from ...wholehearted devotion to Him…God wants us to enjoy life...but to avoid those activities that could lead us away from Him.” (Dynamis 4/25/14, Life Application Study Bible, Isaiah 4:2-4, 5:11-13)

“...someone once described the contrast between a good life and a godly life as the difference between the top of the ocean and the bottom. On top, sometimes it’s like glass—serene and calm—and other times it’s raging and stormy. But hundreds of fathoms below, it is beautiful and consistent, always calm, always peaceful.” (Bill McCarteny)

“Throughout his ministry, St. Paul remained a tentmaker (Acts of the Apostles 18:3-4). This was his trade and he kept busy, wherever he was, by sewing tents. One lives the Christian life in ordinary ways. Not all of us will be heroic monks or nuns living a strict Prayer Rule. In fact, most of us will live out our lives as “spiritual athletes” while we do homework, make dinner, hold down a job, pick up the kids from soccer practice, have our teeth cleaned.” (Abouna Justin Rose)

“Give us our daily bread” (not an annuity for life) applies to spiritual gifts too; the little daily support for the daily trial. Life has to be taken day by day and hour by hour.” (C.S. Lewis)

“Grace is available for each of us every day - our spiritual daily bread - but we've got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” (Sarah Ban Breathnach)

“We may become so concerned about what we could be doing for God somewhere else that we miss great opportunities right where we are…we are to use our time, talents, and treasures diligently in order to serve God completely in whatever we do. For a few people, this may mean changing professions. For most of us, it means doing our daily work out of love for God.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 7:20, Matthew 25:21)

“No matter what position you hold at work, home or church, you represent God. In every part of life He invites you to serve Him.” (NIV Men's Devotional Bible)

"The unity of the Body of Christ is organic." (Dynamis 7/29/2013)

“...the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.” (C. S. Lewis)

“The overwhelming message of Jesus Christ was that Christianity was something that one “lived," rather than something that one "did.” (Fr. Joseph Irvin)

“Christianity is not just holding certain theories about God, it’s not a philosophical system only. Christianity is not a question of moral imitation, of keeping ethical rules. Christianity signifies a direct participation through grace in the life of God.” (Metropolitan Kallistos Ware)

“The ultimate meaning of life is found in healthy relationships with God and with our fellow man.” (Brian Wright)

“Spiritual people must be careful not to pursue self-development at the expense of broken, lost people. When we give too much attention to our own needs, ideas, and spiritual expression, we may push aside the Spirit’s true desire and abandon those who need encouragement.” (Life Application Study Bible, 1 Corinthians 14:9)

“My objective in life is not to have a spiritual life that is separate from the rest of my life.” (Ed McCraken)

“Let us . . . examine ourselves as to how we live, how we behave, how we think, how we speak, how we act, with what heart we address others before God Who sees all things, and how we treat each other. And . . . let us correct ourselves . . . in truth.” (Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk)

“Our lives are comprised of thousands of small daily decisions and actions: how we treat others, how we use our money, what we do with our abilities, where we invest our time, and what example we set for others to see. Before God will call you to something greater, He first wants to see what you have done in the small things.” (Richard Stearns)

"The more spiritual work one does during his youth, the easier it will be for him in all things later in life. ..." (Blessed Elder Paisios of Athos)

“Be careful how you live; you will be the only Bible some people ever read.” (William Toms)

“I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day; I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.” (Edgar Guest)

“Preach the gospel every day; if necessary, use words.” (Francis of Assisi)

“Our responsibility is to let people see God through us.” (Life Application Study Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:7)

“Our charge is to both proclaim and embody the Gospel so that others can see, hear, and feel God’s love in tangible ways.” (Richard Stearns)

“We must try to take life moment by moment. The actual present is usually pretty tolerable, I think, if only we refrain from adding to its burden that of the past and the future. How right Our Lord is about “sufficient for the day.” (C.S. Lewis)

“...the practical and prudential cares of this world, and even the smallest and most prosaic of those cares, are the great distraction. The gnat-like cloud of petty anxieties and decisions about the conduct of the next hour have interfered with my prayers more often than any passion or appetite whatever.” (C. S. Lewis)

“The Holy Spirit gives Christians great power to live for God. Some Christians want more than this. They want to live in a state of perpetual excitement. The tedium of everyday living leads them to conclude that something is wrong spiritually. Often the Holy Spirit’s greatest work is teaching us to persist, to keep on doing what is right even when it no longer seems interesting or exciting.” (Life Application Study Bible, Galatians 3:5)

“Let our God-directed conscience be our aim and rule in everything so that, knowing how the wind is blowing, we may set our sails accordingly." (St. John Climacus)

“I have so many things to do today, I dare not ignore my time with God.” (Martin Luther)

“We must try to take life moment by moment. The actual present is usually pretty tolerable, I think, if only we refrain from adding to its burden that of the past and the future. How right Our Lord is about “sufficient to the day.” (C. S. Lewis)

“Doing right is more important than doing well.” (Life Application Study Bible, Joshua 4:14) “What you do under pressure often shows what you are really like.” (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 6:20)

"What we truly believe about God is demonstrated by how we act, regardless of what we say." (John Njoroge)

“...we do not achieve anything great on our own; we all need each other.” (Stratford Caldecott)

“There is a great deal of difference between an individual and a person. An individual is a number, a member of a set... A person, on the other hand, loves and is loved. It is the ability to love that ultimately defines us as persons created in the image of God.” (Clark Carlton)

“In Christ, individuality…finds its perfect, immaculate expression. In Christ we meet not the individual, but the person. Thus, we could say that Christ is the perfect person who serves the community in the perfect way…If we really know Jesus we are in the process of overcoming the detrimental oscillation between individualism and community, between personal needs and social needs. We become a whole person integrating in the best sense individualism and commitment to others.” (Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis)

“Holiness is often understood individualistically, as the transformation of an individual into a holy man, characterized by certain virtues and shining forth qualities of goodness, humility, love, etc. But we tend to forget that when the Holy Spirit blows, He always brings about communion and therefore creates community. There is no such thing as holy individualism. All holiness stems from the communion of the Spirit.” (Metropolitan John Zizioulas)

“Christianity validates the individual as unique and created by God, but emphasizes self-denial in terms of struggling against selfish desires and emptying of ourselves so that God can fill us with His Holy Spirit. This helps us live as individuals in the context of community where we focus on what we can do for others, naturally and not through forced effort, and becoming a reflection of Christ as our ultimate goal.” (Sacramental Living)

There are three important relationships that define us as persons: our relationship with God, our relationship with other people, and our relationship with the physical world." (Clark Carlton)

“Beyond being disingenuous and hypocritical, anyone who can today argue with a straight face that the images to which the mind is exposed have no bearing on subsequent behavior is also simply being anachronistic. Way too much money is spent on modifying behavior through advertising for anyone to believe that what our minds take in has no influence on what we do and who we become.” (Bishop John Michael Botean)

“It is one of the evils of rapid diffusion of news that the sorrows of all the world come to us every morning. I think each village was meant to feel pity for its own sick and poor whom it can help and I doubt if it is the duty of any private person to fix his mind on ills when he cannot help. (This may even become an escape from the works of charity we really can do to those we know). (C. S. Lewis)

“Many medications are available today to treat sleeplessness, anxiety, tension, and nerves. Although most of these cures treat symptoms rather than root causes, the pharmaceutical industry aggressively promotes its wares on television. What is our witness as to the true source of physical and spiritual health? We must not discount the counsel and therapies offered by doctors, yet at the same time we are to evaluate our own behavior and choices as witnesses of God, reviewing our prayer routine and daily habits.” (Dynamis 12/3/2013)

“What we nourish and feed our minds with is important too. All of us are different. Some of us find and experience God most often in music; some in the pursuit of science; some in our professions. God delights in variety, as evidenced by the variety of all of the life that makes up our world, and we all have different gifts by which we can experience Him and share His love.” (Sacramental Living)

“A balanced spiritual diet must include healing times of self-examination, repentance, and confession as part of our disciplines for spiritual growth.” (Dynamis 10/16/2013)

“One of the greatest resources God gives us is the family. Families provide acceptance, encouragement, guidance and counsel.” (Life Application Study Bible, Proverbs 11:29) “Our understanding of the family and its purpose begins with our understanding of God as the Holy Trinity. Among other things, we understand the Trinity is love in action because it is made up of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwelling in a union of love. The family too should be love in action because love and personhood, exemplified by the Holy Trinity, cannot exist in selfcenteredness. Love withers in this type of isolation from others. Self-centeredness cannot exist in real love. We must relate to our family members and others, loving each other completely, to become a real person capable of true love.” (Sacramental Living)

“The only way to keep your life free of people problems is to keep it free of people. But if your life is empty of people, it is useless; and if you live only for yourself, your life loses its meaning. Instead of avoiding people, we should serve others, share out faith and work for justice.” (Life Application Study Bible, Proverbs 14:4)

“Our strength comes from God, but He meets many of our needs through our teamwork with others.” (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 6:7)

“We are to complete our years “in peace and repentance,” partake of Christ’s Holy Mysteries, struggle in our hearts to keep the fullness of the Faith alive, and live with our fellows in a Godpleasing manner…” (Dynamis 4/10/2013)

“We were created in love by God and for God. God reveals this to us at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis when He creates Eve so Adam would have both an equal and a helper as the Scripture states. Even with God by his side in paradise with the animals and nature, Adam felt alone without other human beings. God then created Eve. All humans came from the union of man and woman and depend on that relationship. God created all of us to both help each other and receive help in this life. He made us relational to live in loving community just as He is relational within Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (Sacramental Living)

“Sin is not just a private matter. Everything we do affects others, and we have to think of them constantly. God created us to be interdependent, not dependent. We who are strong in faith must, without pride or condescension, treat others with love, patience, and self-restraint.” (Life Application Study Bible, Romans 14:20,21)

“God is calling us to the struggle against rampant individualism and self-indulgence.” (Dynamis 3/18/2013)

“…concerning self-reliance: “this spiritual disease of ours, so hard to perceive and acknowledge, is more abhorrent to God than all else in us, as being the first offspring of our self-hood and selflove, and the source, root and cause of all passions and of all our downfalls and wrong doing.” (Saint Theophan the Recluse)

“A self-pitying heart will inevitably grow bitter, and a bitter heart will inevitably grow cold, desensitizing us to the movement of God in our lives. In other words, a self-pitying heart can turn you stupid real quick.” (Kasey Van Norman)

“Christians should live in peace. To live in peace does not mean that suddenly all differences of opinion are eliminated, but it does require that loving Christians work together despite their differences. Such love is not a feeling but a decision to meet others’ needs.” (Life Application Study Bible, Colossians 3:14,15)

#PastorTimothyKeller #SaintThalassios #NicholasWolterstorff #TimothyWare #AnneMarieGazzolo #GordonTSmith #CarolynMahaney #StIsidoreofPelusium #BlHenrySuso #RevAndrewDemotses #StJohnClimacus #RevDrEmmanuelClapsis #EcumenicalPatriarchBartholomew #SaraAbell #MarianneCSailus #LilianDaniel #BillMcCarteny #AbounaJustinRose #CSLewis #SarahBanBreathnach #MetropolitanKallistosWare #EdMcCraken #SaintTikhonofZadonsk #RichardStearns #WilliamToms #EdgarGuest #FrancisofAssisi #MartinLuther #JohnNjoroge #StatfordCaldecott #ClarkCarlton #ArchbishopDemetriosTrakatellis #MetropolitanJohnZizioulas #KaseyVanNorman #SaintTheophantheRecluse #SacramentalLiving #ChristoperFlesoras #MScottPeck #JanetHagberg #RobertGuelich #StJohnofKrondstadt #SrDrVassaLarin #FrStavrosNAkrotirianakis #TheaJarvis

Recent Posts

See All

Knowledge

“Doctrines are not mere collections of information about God. We cannot acquire knowledge of God unless we are purified by our struggles and aided by the Holy Spirit…Our information culture, however,

Fame

"We live in an age where self- promotion, competition, wealth, and fame are considered good. For some, these things constitute the very goal of life." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou) “In the m

Deliverance

“When our Lord reads Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2), He declares its prophecy fulfilled: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, / Because He has anointed Me” (vs. 18). In other words, salvation has arrived, the