I found The Matrix of Christian Ethics by Patrick Nullens and Ronald Michener a little bit frustrating. Not because I didn’t agree with it, but because it reminds me of the heart of God and how different His values and mine are. I appreciated the way the authors always go back to the heart of God, which are people and community. We tend to value community in theory, but not so much in practice because practice is messy. We like our faith to be clean and proper but when you throw in community you automatically make things messy and complicated.
Nullens and Michener say that the popular expression “’having a personal relationship with God’ carries a great risk, because our relationship with God is always together with others. Now, it is personal in the sense that it involves the personal will of an individual before God within the community. But is not as if we alone stand before God, detached from the community of believers in some sort of private relationship.” (157) This idea that we don’t stand before God apart from community is a bit humbling. Obviously, it’s not a new concept, but I wonder what life would look like if we took seriously.
With Christmas season upon us I can’t help to think that Jesus didn’t come for one person… but He came to a community. It wasn’t just Mary, or just Joseph, but it was Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and the angels, and the magi and all of creation. The community imitates God, who loves the world and gave his Son to redeem the world. I pray that this would be a lived out reality in my life… especially this holiday season.