The point of Ecclesial communities – friendship with God friendship with others
It has been good for us in the Moot Community to get the input from Jemma Allen, on the whole focus of the Christian life on friendship. Rightly she has come and challenged us Brits about our language for God and the faith, which remains still very much based on power language and Christendom. I for example, was quite immune to the number of times we use the word Lord. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help you see what is right before your eyes.
What Jemma has reminded me of, is the connection for the need of deep friendships as a sign of a healthy ecclesial community, and the core focus of the Christian faith. it is the depths and commitment to relationships and seeking friendship that is an outward sign of the Kin-dom of God, and follows some of the approach of Christ in gospels. Friendship then is the medium for transformation, hope giving care. It is therefore the work of God, through friendships that we become more human, taking off our masks and pretending to be other people.
It reminds me of the work of Ryan Bolger, in his PhD on the Emerging Church, where he summarised the qualities of the emerging church as: the desire to imitate the life of Jesus; transform secular society; emphasise communal living; welcome outsiders; be generous and creative; and lead without control.
So the significance then of Church is not right teaching, or about perfect worship, or the slick liturgy, it is about the people and their relationships to one another as a medium for the outworking of God. So many churches have lost this focus. I am reminded of this in the call of the Ministry of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5 11-21:
11 We know what it means to fear the Lord, and so we try to persuade others. God knows us completely, and I hope that in your hearts you know me as well.12 We are not trying again to recommend ourselves to you; rather, we are trying to give you a good reason to be proud of us, so that you will be able to answer those who boast about people’s appearance and not about their character.13 Are we really insane? It is for God’s sake. Or are we sane? Then it is for your sake.14 We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that they all share in his death.15 He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake. 16 No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so.17 Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.18 All this is done by God, who through Christ changed us from enemies into his friends and gave us the task of making others his friends also.19 Our message is that God was making all human beings his friends through Christ.[a] God did not keep an account of their sins, and he has given us the message which tells how he makes them his friends.
20 Here we are, then, speaking for Christ, as though God himself were making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: let God change you from enemies into his friends!21