26 April, 2012

It takes a community to know an individual

I came across a new idea the other day. Totally-out-of-the-blue idea; an idea that I've never consciously considered before. That doesn't happen to me very often. It was in preparing a Bible study for tomorrow that I found the following passage that gives a totally different angle on why being a part of a Christian fellowship is so important.

"C. S. Lewis was part of a famous circle of friends called the Inklings, which included J. R. R. Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings, and also the author Charles Williams, who died unexpectedly after World War II. in his book The Four Loves, Lewis wrote a striking meditation on his death in an essay entitled "Friendship."
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald's [Tolkien's] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him "to myself" now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald . . . In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious "nearness by resemblance" to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another (Isaiah 6:3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.
Lewis is saying that it took a community to know an individual. How much more would this be true of Jesus Christ?" pp125-127 The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller. (The emphases are mine.)

Aside from the fact that this is an awesome idea, it has other implications too. Take, for example, a colleague who is struggling to figure out who I am, who keeps initiating "personality" discussions with me. I'm now wondering if this person, with whom I've mostly just spent time with in one-on-one meetings, needs to spend time seeing me in groups where I feel comfortable. Just a thought, an interesting thought!

Anyone else intrigued by this idea? What do you think?


Camilla said...

I'm extremely intrigued by this idea. Now to spend some time pondering the best way to pass this concept on to my nearly 13 year old daughter.

Hippomanic Jen said...

Intriguing... and as usual, CS Lewis is probably right.