Christianity Is a Communal Faith
Christianity is a communal faith, one that requires its followers to be actively involved with others. The Church’s worship is communal, and salvation itself is a corporate act, one that necessitates interaction with others. One is not “saved” in a vacuum but as part of the corporal life of the Church. Your salvation must be as much a concern to me as is my own salvation. My relationship with Christ is not about me but about us. Our sins are not just against God, but against the Body of Christ, the Church. Our love of God cannot be salvific if we do not love others, for just as the Lord said, “If someone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 John 4:20)
Given the communal nature of the Church, it is particularly alarming to see increasing numbers of people isolating themselves from others. Many have turned to the Internet as the primary source of interaction with others, finding “friendships” with people who will never be met in person. The importance of social interaction in the central square, as seen in traditional villages where cafe life and church were the primary source of fraternal interaction, has pointed the way to a future of increased estrangement from each other.
Isolated from others, the communal nature that is an important element in what it means to be human is lost. It is thus imperative that we guard against the temptation of spending too much time in front of the computer and too little time with others. The sight of young people sitting in coffee houses together, yet apart, is troubling. Mobile phones, text messaging, iPods, communication through email, and countless hours on Facebook lead to the furtherance of an isolation that is murdering the soul. As humans, we are meant to be together, for it is in our lives together that we grow in mind and spirit. It is in community that we learn to love God. For friendships to be limited to online chat rooms is a tragedy of major proportions, one that will ultimately be the ruin of society.
With love in Christ, Abbot Tryphon
All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
Vashon Island, Washington