THE TRINITY AND ESCHATOLOGY OF THE CHURCH
1. The church cannot be thought of as merely like-minded individuals voluntarily coming together for the purpose of worship but rather understood in the framework of God’s mission. Just as the Father sent his Son and the Son then sent his Spirit, so now the Spirit empowers the church to contribute “in bringing about the world into communion with God.” One reading states, “The church, the community of God’s people in the world, is the place where faith is formed and forgiveness of sins is extended. The church stands at the crossroads between God and the world.” This community “is discontinuous with the world, exposing the powers of sin and darkness that permeate human, social and cosmic life, but also a bridge for God’s love to spread into the world in order to call peoples, cultures and nations into the eschatological gathering.” With this in mind, the church has to intentionally protect herself from being swayed by commercialization and personal independence. Instead, the focus should be on reflecting and representing the message of Jesus Christ through both one’s language and lifestyle.
2. The Trinitarian God established the church as a community of faith, as the body of Christ, in whom the people of God anticipate the fullness of the coming kingdom. This might have been what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he prayed, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” Another author proposes, “The triune God who is a community of persons in unity of essence and purpose, is the basis for koinonia, both in the mutual fellowship we have with God and each other in the Church, but also the basis of our koinonia with the world, as we are sent out to be light and salt of the good news of the coming kingdom.” In other words, there is an absolute unity amongst the Godhead. Personhood is drastically different to that of individualism. There is no personhood without community. In much the same way, the church ought to be made up of people who “while maintaining [distinct identities], define themselves by those who [they share] community with. [Each one has] been formed by [their] community and every person is involved in every action of the Godhead.”
The church is to be the body of Christ. They are to live out the love of Christ with one another. Love does not come without cost but “the risk of love is to not be loved back – to have the possibility of being the recipient of rejection. In this way, hate is a function of love. Indifference and apathy are the opposites of love.” Just as Christ was prepared to suffer on behalf of humanity, willing to be make himself susceptible to being grieved, so ought his disciples make similar sacrifices in the context of community. One of the readings warned, “The lack of unity in the body means that the church is not complete, not whole – not living out who we are as Christ’s righteous body and bride . . . Disunity . . . communicates to the world that God has not sent his Son.” The means by which we value others is in direct correlation and connection with how we value the Godhead.
Along with that, the eschatological imagination makes all expressions of the church provisional through a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God. One author proposes, “The church does not establish the parameters of God’s reign; the parameters of God’s reign defines the role of the church. The church has not always gotten this sequence right.” In other words, the Kingdom of God ought to be the basis for developing any teaching, strategy or understanding of a Christ-centered community.