The Trinity is the first society. Before the world began, before ever there was an earth or man to inhabit the earth, there was God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit dwelling in an everlasting bond of fellowship that we call covenant.
The covenant is an eternal bond of union, communion, and self-giving love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each of the three divine persons eternally relates to the other two in peace and humility. The Bible tells us that God has graciously and sovereignly chosen a people to be drawn into communion with the divine family. These people are the church. Believers and their children are made members of the covenant through Jesus Christ, the eternal Son incarnated in human flesh. We enter into this covenant through baptism. Then this union gives way to communion, celebrated in our weekly partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
What does it mean to be a Christian? It is many things, but at the center is to be a part of this people chosen to be welcomed into the society of the Trinity. To be a Christian is not merely an individual affair. It is to be part of the communion of saints – the one holy catholic and apostolic church we confess, that is this people whom God has chosen for fellowship with Himself in the bonds of His covenant love.
The church is Christ’s body, the presence of Jesus the Head in the world, participating in His incarnation and furthering the redeeming purpose of God in the world. The church is Christ’s bride, being made ever more beautiful and lovely as she is prepared for the great feast that awaits her at her wedding day still to come. The church is a thriving olive tree with many thriving branches vitally joined to it that is growing to fill the whole earth. The church is a building rising on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and being built stone by living stone until it rises to be an eternal house of worship for the triune God.
All of this truth about the covenant and the sacraments and the metaphors of body, bride, vine, and building all speak of corporate realities, of the church as a people being welcomed into fellowship with the Trinity. To be a Christian is to be part of the community of God in the world.
This is to repeat something that I have said again and again. The good life that we are sent to embody in the world is corporate. It is communal. And that kind of life is a rebuke to the individualism and privatized faith of our day that we have accepted from modernity. Too often the church has been domesticated by American culture, rather than embodying and announcing a new way to be human under the triune God’s reign. But our task must be finding ways to rediscover how to live the good life in community together as a way of showing to the world what it means to be in right relationship with God and to live life as God intended. That is being a missional community.
Consider the place of feasting in the Christian life and the life of the church. The good life is lived at its best during times of celebration and feasting. Can you imagine a feast of one? One solitary hermit celebrating a feast of his own making? The very nature of feasting is that it is communal. It has toasts and laughter and sharing and giving at its heart. Something special happens when people sit down to eat together with joy. Something sacramental. It echoes the partaking of Christ Jesus in the Lord’s Supper. It joins people together and displays their love and compassion and enjoyment.
Have you considered that the better we feast, the more God-centered enjoyment we derive from sharing a feast and celebrating together, the more we are being cemented together as families and as a covenant community, and the more we are then embodying the social reality of the Trinity relating in peace and humility? This is the good life in service to the mission of God. This is a missional community centered around the gospel of grace and love, and it is the very thing we are sent to do.