We are created for companionship and community

Making sense of ‘original sin’

The Doctrine of Original Sin can be explained in various ways but it is important for me to articulate it in our context where there is a lack of solidarity amongst peoples. While some are inclined to explain it as humanity’s natural propensity to fall from the grace of God, I wish to emphasize that it is when we break our covenant with our communities that we break our covenant with God. As covenant people, we are created for companionship and community.

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”[1]

“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”[2]

The two verses can be interpreted as the deep need of God for companionship and community. One can argue that if God created a community in Genesis 1, not just of human beings, but of other creatures, God-self wanted to be in community. Furthermore, the Genesis 2 narrative can be read as a human’s need for deeper intimacy which God recognized when God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” Finally, it is explicit in the text that humankind was created in God’s image. Thus, God, like human beings, like all created creatures, needed companionship and community, intimacy and love.

It is also our belief that God became human in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself was born into a community, a family.[3] Jesus needed companionship in his ministry when he called the disciples.[4] In the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus went to pray just before he was betrayed and crucified, he needed the disciples to watch over him.[5] On the cross, he comforted another crucified man by saying he will be with Jesus in Paradise[6] and he ensured his mother, Mary, and the Beloved Disciple had a companion in each other just before he died.[7] From birth until death Jesus lived in companionship and in community.

In the Temptation of Christ, Jesus was brought alone to a wilderness. He was asked by the devil to turn stones into bread, to throw himself down from the pinnacle of a temple, and offered great wealth. He said ‘No.’[8] He could have all these but he would not be able to immerse himself in the struggles of the people. In his denial of these temptations, he expressed that his human life will be spent with the hungry, the powerless and the poor. He was a companion to those who needed God the most. And they were his community.

Original Sin can be a call to solidarity, companionship and community. We sin when we separate from others. We have been called to be the salt and light of the world;[9] to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.[10] Ultimately, the depth of our relationship with God is only as deep as our relationship with our fellow human beings because we are called to be companions and communities.

[1] Genesis 1: 27
[2] Genesis 2: 18
[3] Matthew 1
[4] Mark 1: 16-20
[5] Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46; Mark 14: 32-42
[6] Luke 23: 43
[7] John 19: 26-27
[8] Matthew 4:1-11
[9] Matthew 5: 13-16
[10] Matthew 22:39; Mark 12: 31


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