Orthodoxy of community
The authority of beauty in our relationships together is a clear, if under-emphasized, teaching in the Bible. A recent post from C. J. Mahaney’s blog referred back to a prophetic word from Francis Schaeffer, The Church before the Watching World, page 62:
“One cannot explain the explosive dynamite, the dunamis, of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world could see. By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community. Our churches have so often been only preaching points with very little emphasis on community, but exhibition of the love of God in practice is beautiful and must be there.”
Gospel community is powerful, beautiful, authoritative. Schaeffer used the phrase “orthodoxy of community” to say that. Beautiful community is not an optional add-on for an otherwise complete, biblical church. It is as essential as its orthodoxy of doctrine.
Do we consider purity of doctrine essential? Probably. Do we consider beauty of community essential? Hopefully.
The urgency of this depends, of course, on who God is. If God has revealed himself to us as truth only, then beautiful community is merely a preference for certain cultures, certain personality types. But if God has revealed himself as truth and love, both simultaneously, then beautiful community is authoritative.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15