The Common Life

The more I walk, the more I realise that the Christian faith is about communion.  Not necessarily in the sense of bread and wine but rather in the sense of relationship.  What that means has been amplified for me by my current situation.  I realise that we are not just in communion with those we choose but rather those God chooses.  When we gather around the table we don’t do it as individuals but rather as the Body of Christ.  I commune with God whilst I commune with you… and you commune with God whilst you commune with me.

Now that doesn’t mean we always agree.  It doesn’t even mean we have to like each other.  What it does mean is that we have to love each other.  Not in a smoochy type manner.  Now in the manner of “I love…” meaning “I think X is a sinner and going to hell so therefore I love him/her…”  To love is not something that a condition can be placed upon.  To love is ‘as is’.

So here I am as a guy with an evangelical heritage asking questions about what it means to be catholic.  For the answer I have to agree with a wiser older man who comes from a much more catholic background than I who defined the term as this:

Catholic doesn’t mean being ‘high church’ it means something much more fundamental – I believe that Jesus is alive and working through the whole of the church and I need to be attentive to and listen to the whole of it! You can’t do this if you are sectarian!

Being sectarian doesn’t value those with whom we are in communion.  It elevates our own opinion to a station above others who are in communion with God.  This is not conducive to the common life as a corporate “Body of Christ”.

He also went on to say something about how this plays out in the common life as we relate to each other in community.  Something highly important.  Something fundamental to loving those in whom you are in communion!

Common life is putting a new loo roll on and pulling it ready for the next person.


8 Responses

  1. I’m looking forward to you putting that last quote into practice at home…

  2. I did realise that I would be hoisted by my own batard but thought it worthy of saying anyway 😀

  3. I think you mean ‘by your own petard’…

  4. Stop being such a pendant 😉

    Apparantly a google search proves that I am not alone in my mistok.

  5. Out in the ‘real world’ this is probably more counter-cultural than ever before. I think a lot of this spirit was summed up in what we used to call common courtesy. When someone opens a door for me, I appreciate the service they have offered and say thank you, thus valuing their efforts. Everyone is happy. Likewise, I am happy to hold a door open for anyone, regardless of gender, position, whatever. There is a certain brand of person who objects to courtesy and regards it as patronising behaviour. I think this is sad because it puts people off performing these little acts of service. Nowhere is the demise in courtesy felt more keenly than on our overcrowded roads. Just idly musing…

  6. So common courtesy is the central pillar of community. I think you may have hit upon something there which relates very strongly to how we should be as ‘church’.

  7. yep, yep and yep.

    I remember reading CS Lewis on “considering others better than yourselves” and “not leading your weaker brother into sin” He said this was meant to result in the low church brother or sister, on visiting the high church, crossing himself with abandon, the conservative evangelical on visiting his charismatic neighbours in the faith getting his arms up in the air and so on. he spoke of a generosity of spirit and a willingness to learn, he spoke of being a blessing and an encouragement.

    I’ve heard it said that at one point (i think in the victorian era) that British merchants had so taken on board the Biblical instruction to deal honestly that they were trusted en masse throughout the globe, and benefited greatly from their good reputation. Would that our country and our community of faith had that reputation, and a reputation for generosity and courtesy, today. That’s my prayer. Amen.

  8. Interestingly, that CS Lewis quote was used by the same man in the same address 😀

    I think that many of the things that defined the British in such a way are starting to dissapear. (Sorry, I may be in danger of sounding like a Daily Mail reader if I continue with this sort of reasoning).

    Stop this vile filth!!


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