By: Thomas E. Brewton
Modern life isolates each of us. The church community unites us and gives meaning to our lives.
Sundayâ€™s sermon at the Long Ridge Congregational Church (non-UCC) in North Stamford, Connecticut, was delivered by the Reverend Mark Scarlata. An old Jewish proverb, he said, summarizes the condition of human life: â€œWe can be either like a single letter of an alphabet, or part of a greater meaning.â€
From one perspective, the whole Bible is the history of drawing people together into an ever larger community, beginning with the family of Abram/Abraham, and widening under Moses into the twelve tribes constituting the Israelite nation. The unifying force was submission to Godâ€™s command, which gives meaning to individual life and to the community.
You are not to do as we do here today, everyone as he sees fit, since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the LORD your God is giving you. But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety. Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Nameâ€”there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD. And there rejoice before the LORD your God, you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns, who have no allotment or inheritance of their own. (Deuteronomy 12:8-12)
Ultimately, through the church, the body of Christ, all humanity is united as a community open to Godâ€™s Word.
Then Peter began to speak: â€œI now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-35)
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherâ€”and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Ironically, the technology of communication – the internet – leaves us in impersonal isolation, even though information moves at greater volume and speed than ever before. Lacking is personal contact, the connectedness of community that gives individuals a sense of belonging and gives their lives meaning. Mutual support within the church community, striving for deeper understanding of Godâ€™s Word, imparts the ultimate experience of meaning.
This stands in stark contrast to liberal-socialism-progressivism. In that paradigm, the world is without meaning; bleak, Darwinian chance in which humans are the accidental product of materialistic forces working through natural selection. Darwinian evolution denies the existence of design, hence meaning; humans were not specifically created in Godâ€™s image, but just happened. We are, in that paradigm, merely slightly advanced apes. It is a world, as described by Darwinâ€™s champion Thomas Huxley, in which there is no sin, nor right or wrong, merely the struggle for survival.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the church is a living, organic thing, the earthly manifestation of the spiritual body of Christ in which is found the hope of humanity. In his letter to the church at Colossi, he wrote:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all his peopleâ€” the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true word of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole worldâ€” just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood Godâ€™s grace. (Colossians 1:3-6)
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776 http://www.thomasbrewton.com/
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.