Community, Individualism and How to Live

May 15, 2017

"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)