What is the heart of our communion? What is that makes us a community? The Confession wastes no time in providing the foundation of our unity, declaring in paragraph 1 of Chapter 26 that: All saints, that are unified to Jesus Christ their Head by His Spirit and by faith, have fellowship in His graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces…”
It doesn’t take long for me (a mere two miles, in fact) as I drive the streets of my neighborhood to find an assortment of signs all espousing a common conception. From signs welcoming people into the village in which I live, to the sign bearing the name of one of the local churches, the concept of community is pervasive. And this little town is certainly not alone in its desire to cultivate the idea of community as a fundamental component of its existence. Community is everywhere. But what is community? What do we mean when we refer to our neighborhoods, our schools, our social clubs, our churches, etc…as communities? Of course, it’s simple enough to open a dictionary and find community defined for us there. For example, Miriam-Webster defines community as “a unified body of individuals.” Yet, recognizing the insufficiency of its own definition to fully encapsulate the idea, Webster’s goes on to provide multiple examples of what’s meant by a “unified body of individuals.” If we cared to take the time to peruse all of those subdivisions, we would notice a common theme emerging. That theme is “interests”. A community is a “unified body of individuals” that is unified around common interests, whatever those interests may happen to be: social, political, religious, etc… Unsurprisingly, the unified body we are concerned with here is the unified body of individuals that have Christianity as their central unifying interest. Following the lead of some of my fellow A Standard For Living authors, I am throwing my hat into the multi-part ring in order to examine fully the idea of Christian community from the perspective of the Westminster Confession of Faith.