To be in community is to breathe shared air.
Every community has its own atmosphere, and each one of us affects the air quality in some way, for better or for worse. Not every member contributes equally to the condition of the atmosphere at all times. There are occasions when, as individual members of a community, we can have a disproportionate impact on the overall quality of the air that everyone is breathing.
Ask my family about the community atmosphere in our home a few years back. Something harmful was contaminating the air that everyone was breathing. And I was the source.
But why? Since I love my family, why would I cause the air in my household to become unhealthy for my family to breathe?
To explain, I’ll have to go back to the beginning.
The Creator is a Community of Persons living eternally in perfect relationship. We were fashioned after God’s likeness, and invited to share in the love relationship of the Three in One. The atmosphere we were created for is relationship with the divine Community . We were made to breathe the life, love and joy of God, and to offer ourselves completely and selflessly to our neighbors as a blessing.
The Fall fouled the air. We cut ourselves off from the pure, life-giving oxygen of relationship with God, and we’ve been inhaling and expelling poisonous gases ever since.
Instead of offering ourselves to others as a blessing, in our insecurity, we hide from each other, use each other, and wound one another.
It’s become the story of our lives.
For some of us, the air we breathed during our formative years was noxious and clearly harmful. For others of us, our unhealthy atmosphere was our ”normal,” and those poisonous gases were odorless and tasteless to us. In either case, we all suffered the damage from the pollution we inhaled, and we all learned to emit our own contamination into the community air.
But here’s the good news of redemption. Through Christ, God clears the air with the breath of His Spirit. He offers us the pure oxygen of intimate relationship with Him, and He teaches us to receive His life-giving breath. As we inhale deeply of God’s Spirit, we exhale His love and grace in community. And once more, as it was always meant to be, we offer ourselves to one another as a blessing.
Here is a question that I often ask myself. Maybe you’ll want to ask yourself, too.
Right now, how am I affecting the community air quality?