This. This is one of the multitudinous reasons why I love my husband. Tim is kicking off January’s Community series with a post involving Jane Austen. I’m so proud!
What Jane Austen Taught Me About Community
Little did I know that when I started to delve into the world of Jane Austen as part of a Christmas present for my wife, I was going to run in to an important theological concept, one that is at the cornerstone of human relationships with God and others. In the movie Mansfield Park, Henry Crawford tries to woo Fanny Price using this profound truth: “There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.”
This profound statement rings true in fictional stories of far off lands and in the hearts and minds of every individual who ever lived. Humans have an instinctive desire to love and be loved, to know and be known – to be in community. And this stems back to, well, before Adam and Eve.
It starts with who God is. We worship a God who exists in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we worship a God who is in community. And humans were created in the image of God – in community.
Genesis 1:26 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness’” (NASB).
Through most of human history, many thought that being created in the image of God meant that we looked like God; that this referred to some physical quality. However, within the last few centuries, theologians have found that being created in the image of God most likely refers to the relational aspect of our beings: our capacity to be in relationship with God and with others.
Consider Jesus’ response to the lawyer when he asked about the greatest commandment of the Law:
“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV).
We are called to love and community because our identity is tied up within our need for relationship. Therefore, right from the beginning of time, we were made to be in community: to know others and be known by others, to love and be loved.
We find purpose in community. We find love in community. We find God in community.
Jane Austen knew it. And God created it.
Tim is living the newlywed life in Northern Idaho with his best friend, Emily. He’s a triathlete, coffee connoisseur, and trumpet/guitar/piano player. Seeing families connect with each other and with God is his passion. He currently serves as the Youth Pastor at Coeur d’Alene Bible Church.