We Need A “Community” In Order To Really Know God

The pub where Lewis and his friends experienced "community.

My husband, Tom and I have been discussing an amazing quote used by Tim Keller in his book “The Prodigal God.” It comes from C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves.

For context, it’s important to point out that Lewis is referring to community within the Inklings, a small group of men who met weekly for almost 20 years. Lewis’s closest friends seemed to be in this group, and Charles and Ronald were both members. “Ronald” is J.R. R. Tolkien and “Charles” is Charles Williams.

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity…Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically *Caroline joke (see below). Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases.

In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious ‘nearness by resemblance’ to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ to one another. The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”

*”Caroline” is an adjective which comes from the Latin for Charles, which is (I believe) Carolus. So a “Caroline” joke would be a “Charles-y” joke – in other words, a joke of the type Charles told.

Another interesting tid-bit gleaned from the blog world, Tolkien never liked Charles Williams and wondered what Lewis saw in him. He also was a bit jealous of Lewis splitting his affections between him and Williams. So we may wonder to what degree he would have endorsed this paragraph from Lewis!

What are your reactions to this quote and the importance of community that it underscores?

Other posts you might like: A Vision For A Church God Can Grow https://womenatcrossroads.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/vision-2009-%E2%80%93-a-vision-for-a-church-god-can-grow/



Filed under Christian Spiritual Growth and Disciplines, Personal Growth

7 responses to “We Need A “Community” In Order To Really Know God

  1. My small group started this morning, and I explained to the women that over the next few months we will share and love and encourage and laugh and cry and support… and sometimes we will adore each other and sometimes we will get frustrated as all get out. But, that is the POINT of fellowship and community, and we are better for ALL aspects of it. “As iron sharpens iron…” Having community with people that can at times rub us the wrong way is every bit as crucial to our personal growth as having it with people we constantly get along with. Thus, the beauty of our small group… and all the different types of women that are in it. =^)

  2. Maryellen Stipe

    I agree with the term “beauty” in regard to your small group Angela, it is a thing of beauty and so often we under estimate the importance of the group of friends God supplies at any certain period of time. It is the combination of friends in Christian community at any given time that shape us and reveals God to us. Each person gives something to the chemistry and if any of them are missing it simply would not be the same. I love the way God uses community in our lives it is amazing!

  3. as i read the above quote, it made me think of each of my friends, how I would love to be able to think “if one of these friends were to die, or to move away, what one quality do each of them possess that makes them unique and what one thing would I miss most about them?” I can guarantee you that there would a trait that would stick out. Thanks for the thought.

  4. Maryellen Stipe

    Karen, you are right each friend brings a certain quality and it is the interaction of friends that is catalytic and brings the magic! Thanks for contributing, Maryellen

  5. Jenny and Dee O.

    Our small group helps keep me planted safely in the Lord. We share meals, books, movies and much love. They definitely are the body of Christ to me!
    We also share different approaches to life’s challenges and family dynamics — so discussion is a big component in our relationships.

  6. Mitz

    That is so true. Those people who sometimes irritate us are the very people who make us stretch and grow closer to Christ. However, sometimes when I grow closer to those people they see I am not a perfect people either and that can be scary. It makes me feel vulnerable and in some instances naked. I want my clothes on! Then I remember: I am clothed in His righteousness. It is in that ah!ha! moment that I turn……..When I catch a glimpse of that moment it makes it easier to open up and let people know who I am. I love those people and they help me get to where I need to go. They are an oh so needed blessing in my life. God given. I thank Him for them! You guys are some of “them”.

  7. aaafisherman

    Just a quick note: How many times have you been with friends or family, and, not really being in the flow of the conversation, someone says to the other, “remember when…” with the response, “oh yeah, I really was out on a limb, there.” And all of a sudden you say, “I didn’t know that about you!” That is precisely what Lewis was talking about – and, yes, it is true of each other as we commune with God and share Him with our earthly friends.

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