Jesus’ community has always been fundamentally counter-cultural. Where else do people of all generations and walks of life gather for a common purpose? And not to consume goods or experiences either, but really the opposite. To give. To create. Not even for their own sake, but for the sake of the Master. This radical, purposeful community defined by God’s presence and work in the world — this was the dream of the prophets.
The counter-cultural purpose of Jesus’ community reflects its counter-intuitive nature: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v.21). It cannot be earned with moral behavior. It cannot be acquired through transcendental enlightenment. This is the grace and mercy Jesus showed Peter around that fateful campfire, when he forgave him his denials and restored his belonging and purpose in Christ’s community. This is the same Peter who preached in Acts 2 on the prophetic dream of Christ’s community.
The problem is that one dream can be co-opted by secular, cultural “dreams” of community and contentment. But if dreams are by nature creative and unique, like the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we must be open and responsive to God the Holy Spirit. We mustn’t allow ourselves to be swept into the habit of dreaming the same materialistic and self-aggrandizing dream as the bulk of our population. “When the whole population dreams the same dream, empire is triumphant.”*
We are called to be animated by a different narrative, and our experience of Jesus’ community will be only be what we make it. God’s grace is unconditional. Our choice to respond in gracious and merciful community? Well that’s up to us.
- Describe the prophet Joel’s “dream” in your own words.
- Do you see his dream anywhere in the world today?
- Many people would respond positively to Joel’s vision — what makes the Christian response unique?
- If our community is “up to us,” what is one thing you can do this week to move one step closer to experiencing the community that Joel describes?
- Do you see any opportunities at UPPC to either find this community or to create it?
***JOIN US to explore Group Life together!
Sundays in May | 9:15-10:15 | Gym.
*Walsh, Brian J., Sylvia C. Keesmaat. Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire. (IVP, 2004).