13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:13-15, NRSV
A communal mindset is, well, what it sounds like. We learn to see ourselves as part of a group- God’s family. We understand our responsibility for living as a reflection of God’s image and character to be a group responsibility. We cannot shoulder this burden as individuals. This is good news- there is no alternative universe that exists where we, as individuals, live perfectly. It’s never been asked and it’s never been expected. Part of living as a holy community means seeking God’s way of dealing with imperfection. By responding to challenges with gentleness and loving concern, we represent God. We assume, perhaps, that we only represent God when we avoid temptation and imperfection altogether. Not so.
This means we will sacrifice some personal wants, desires, dreams, or goals in order for the community to operate as a collective unit. It means there will be disagreements and conflicts and hurt feelings. It also means we are committed to doing the difficult work of resolving those conflicts and hurt feelings because we are spiritually connected (literally, by God’s spirit). It means we’re committed to voicing the ways in which we have been harmed so as to give the community the opportunity to respond with love.
The good news is, this communal mindset also means we will benefit from the “goodness” of others. We are spiritually linked, and the community’s work reflects on the individual and vice versa. When we are not doing well in life, we are carried by the community and still get to take credit for the work of the community as a result of this spiritual link between us.
God works in the world primarily through people. This is a great responsibility. Yet, at the same time, it also means we have many opportunities to see God visibly on display, at work.