When God said that Adam was alone in the garden (the first thing that was “not good”), I take that to mean that Adam was in some way lonely. I do not think God was the only one who thought something was missing.
Some of the guys in my small group do not buy this. They like to disagree with me, plus they do not think that Adam could have been lonely before the fall. “He had perfect fellowship with God,” they say. I counter, “Loneliness is not a sin. Why can’t there be loneliness before the fall?”
You have heard people say that we were created with a God-shaped void in our life. John Ortberg argues that possibly we were also created with a human-shaped void in our life, a void that not even God Himself would fill.
I haven’t checked this out with smart people yet, but I speculate that when God said “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness …” that He was primarily talking about community.
Think about the Trinity for a moment … what do they do, how do they interact with each other? Just thinking of examples in Scripture, there is, of course, the baptism of Jesus when the Father says, “This is my Son; with him I am well pleased,” and the Spirit descends like a dove. At the transfiguration, the Father said that Jesus was His Son and that they should listen to Him. Reciprocally, Jesus said He could do only what He saw His Father doing. He also said that it would be better when He left because the Spirit would come.
They are always deflecting glory to one another and serving each other. It is a community of mutual submission and love. Wouldn’t you like to have a group of friends like that, always trying to give each other credit and always serving the desires of one another in love? This is what God wanted for us: “let us make man in our image, in our likeness” so that they could have community like we have community.
Jesus restated this desire just before He went to the cross: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them so that they may be one as we are one … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you … that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me” (John 17:11, 21-23).
This sounds mushy to some people. What about the Great Commission? Keep reading: “May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” The design of creation is for a human version of Trinitarian community. Mission comes later, after the fall, and is actually just an expression of what a God-centered, human-shaped-void-filling community would do.
Later Paul urges the Ephesians to “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” He talks about various gifts, but points out that they are all given “so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith.” He continues, “we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
What is it that grows? Not the people with gifts or the ligaments, but the body. Of course individual people grow, but only in the context of community. Personal achievements are only good insofar as they contribute to the community. It is not, after all, about me and God. It is, and always had been, about us and God.