Yesterday we looked at the, so-called, Great Commission and its injunction to teach other disciples to obey everything Jesus had commanded as Integral Mission. Today it will be good to return to the same passage and recognise the role of the community in Integral Mission.
Baptism is the key here. I have been members of various Baptist Churches in my life and have witnessed various baptisms. I also have witnessed Christenings in both Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. I seems to me that Baptist Churches tend to miss out on an important aspect of baptism.
Now I am not saying that we get it wrong. Witness to new faith, dying to the old life and rising to the new and of course the big splash are all great. However, for the early Christian and in the Jewish world, baptism was the sign of you associating with, and committing yourself to, a new community. John the Baptist was baptising those who wanted to associate themselves with the community preparing themselves for the coming of Messiah.
The Disciples are commissioned in Matthew 28 to baptise into the Triune name.
baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Christian baptism is associating ourselves with the divine community of love and purpose that is, what we call, the Trinity. By extension we are being baptised into the community of that divine community, the Church.
In Eastern Orthodox theology the Church is referred to as the “Icon of the Trinity”. It is the image of God on earth. Or at least it should be. What we could refer to the intratrinitarian of the persons of the Trinity should be a mark of the Church. And as with the Trinity, that love overflows to the world.
This love can only be worked out in a local church which meets, care and loves one another. The commission to disciple is to form local communities that will love one another and love the world; through witness and service.