The irreducibly communal nature of being in Christ, being part of his body, has always been good news, but I think it’s particularly so right now, when so many traditional forms of connection and community have broken down in American culture. All around us we are seeing signs of fragmentation: angry partisanship, a widespread opioid crisis, cyber-bullying, a rising rate of major depression among adolescents, and the list goes on. Obviously broad societal trends like these have many, many contributing factors, but I can’t imagine anyone claiming that the breakdown of stable forms of community has had no effect.
In this kind of world, being part of something that, like Christian life, is irreducibly communal, is increasingly important, and it’s not just Christians who think so. Some of you may have read the commencement address that Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General, gave at the University of Arizona last year. I want to quote him for a few moments.