What on ‘earth’ do I mean by ‘the kingdom community’? Well ‘kingdom’ is a pretty biblical word though some people refuse to use it because it sounds paternal and/or imperialistic. The problem is that there really isn’t another word today that adequately translates basileía – we could call it the ‘reign’ of God or Christ – as it is often referred to. But a ‘reign’ requires a people reigned over – and hence I call the latter a ‘community’. Thus ‘the kingdom community’.
But what is the nature of that community? This is all important because the word, like aerosol, has been squirted onto a host of nouns today to make them smell better – community care, community schools, community health, community policing etc.
In fact ‘community’ is a word that needs careful sociological and theological analysis before we use it ad lib. The latter form of analysis builds on the former. So we have to do our homework before we write off ‘the kingdom community’ as just another vague concept.
I make just two points here. Sociologically (though with a bit of psychology thrown in), an understanding of community at its most dynamic relates not to place or interests but to feelings – a sense of community. However, such feelings can empower both ‘good’ collectives (such as the Iona Community) or evil ones (such as ISIS). Thus, let us beware, community can be a power for a better world or a power for its destruction.
So, secondly, we need to ensure that community has a qualitative character – it cannot be assumed to be on the side of goodness and right relationships. This we can only do by translating the key sociological components of a sense of community – a sense of security, significance and solidarity – into a language which gives those terms a more fully and inclusively human, as well as profound meaning. For me, that language is the language associated with the Trinity – the divine community. So I believe for all, and not just Christians, a sense of security becomes the experience of life (God the Creator); a sense of significance becomes the experience of liberation (Christ the Liberator) and a sense of solidarity becomes the experience of unity (the Holy Spirit the Unifier) – all are gifts, all are universal.
Our world is crying out for the gifts of the kingdom community!