In the comments on my last post, about what the church is called to be, it seems to me the common theme that ran throughout everyone’s thoughts was that of a radical, reconciling, relationality (even if no one actually used those words :)).  Dan spoke of the idea of the church family, Matt of being reconciled with all Creation, Josh of radical community, Paul of overcoming the continual broken relationships of this world.

So, I feel the need to push this  a little further.  We did a pretty good job of speaking in catch phrases and themes – the glory of God and my neighbor’s good, of being transformed, a network of Christ-centered communities, ect. I think all of those are well and true, but what do we actually mean by them?  What does it mean for the Church to be a place of radical relationship? H. Richard Niebuhr writes in his text The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry (pardon the male-centered language),

Is not the result of all these debates and the content of the confessions or commandments of all these authorities this: that no substitute can be found for the definition of the goal of the Church as the increase among men of the love of God and neighbor? The terms vary; now the symbolic phrase is reconciliation to God and man, now increase the gratitude for the forgiveness of sin, now the realization of the kingdom or the coming of the Spirit, now the acceptance of the gospel. BUt the simple language of Jesus Christ himself furnishes to most CHristians the most intelligible key to his own purpose and to that of the community gathered around him (31).

But again, what does that mean when lived out in practice?  For me, this lives true as not only living out the example of Jesus Christ, but reflecting the inner, loving relationships of the Triune God.  As the imago dei, we are called to reflect and live out those relationships to the world around us.  They are relationships of radical giving, surrender, sacrifice, and love. When we conceive of a Trinity as three existing in relationship, it is no longer necessary to distinguish between the way God relates to the world and the being of Godself.  When we see God as the unity of relationships, the relationships become visible all around us as the very foundation of who God is.  Catherine LaCunga writes of the kind of impact this understanding should have in her text God For Us, stating,

God moves toward us so that we may move toward each other and thereby toward God.  The way God comes to us is also our way to God and to each other:  through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is our faith, confessed in creed and celebrated in sacraments.  Confessing faith is incomplete unless it becomes a form of life.  Living faith in the God of Jesus Christ means being formed and transformed by the life of grace of God’s economy:  becoming persons fully in communion with all; becoming Christ to one another; becoming by the power of the Holy Spirit what God is:  love unbounded, glory uncontained (377).

So, what does this mean, and actually look like in day to day life?