At Work & Public Square & Theology 101

Relationships are Integral to the Mission of God’s People

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Near the end of the sixth day of the creation story we read, “Then God said, Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”

The phrase, “Let us make man in our image” reveals a lot about our own nature and about the nature of God.

We are Relational as God Is Relational

First and foremost this phrase means we were made to be relational beings. The orthodox doctrine of the Trinity recognizes that God is one God, co-existing in three distinct Persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This is clearly taught in the scriptures and has been recognized by the Church since the second century. These three persons of the Trinity are forever in perfect relationship with each other. There has always been and always will be absolute love, joy and peace within the Godhead.

The very essence of God is relational, and that essential quality has been imprinted on us as humans. We were made to be in relationship with the creator and with the rest of his creation.

Professor Darrell Johnson notes in his book Experiencing the Trinity,

At the center of the universe is a relationship. This is the most fundamental truth I know. At the center of the universe is a community. It is out of that relationship that you and I were created and redeemed. And it is for that relationship that you and I were created and redeemed!

Therefore, one of the things that “made in the image of God” means is that man was made to be in relationship.

This is at the very heart of the gospel. The universe in which we live was created by a good and gracious heavenly Father who filled it with good things to enjoy and gave us moral laws by which to structure to our lives.

But the chief goal and aim of life is neither to enjoy the good gifts, nor obey the laws, but to know and be known by the Creator. This loving relationship between man and God is the way things are supposed to be.

Our purpose, fulfillment, delight, and very life itself flow from this relationship with our Creator.

Relationships are Integral to the Mission of God’s People

While God created us to be in relationship with him, he also created us to be in relationship with one another (Matthew 22:36-40).

Andy Crouch writes in his book Culture Making that God created a world, “designed for the flourishing of exquisitely relational creatures, male and female, who themselves are very good because they bear the image of a relational God.”

While we are all made in the image of God, we are also uniquely made. This is not an accident. It is part of God’s plan for us and his creation.

While our culture stresses the importance of independence, the Bible teaches interdependence (Romans 12:4-5). The Bible emphasizes community.

Scripture calls us to connectedness from the very beginning. We as individuals are called to play a part in the biblical narrative, but for the most part we do our work in the context of community.

Economists call this idea comparative advantage; it is using the talent and gifts that God has given you to do the things you are best at doing. Comparative advantage is the glue that holds communities together.

As we each do what we are best at doing, we all add to the common good. We are to fulfill our call to be good stewards in community and connection with one another. This is what God intended from the beginning.

Comparative advantage brings about flourishing. This is why flourishing only takes place in community.

It is through Christ’s redemption that we are restored to a right relationship with our heavenly Father. That in turn allows Christians to seek the fullness and wholeness of living and being good stewards in community.

When we do this, we bring a level of flourishing to our families and our communities through our work, which reflects the glory of God to a world that is in desperate need of finding something greater than itself.

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