The church is a spiritual biocenosis

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2019

remember my dad telling me to learn at least one new thing every day, or he told me I would get old! So, do you know what a “biocenosis” is? It’s a biological community of animals (zoocenosis), plants (phytocenosis), or microbial organisms (microbiocenosis). Karl Mobius coined the term in 1877 to describe a group of living organisms interacting in a defined geographical area, called a habitat.

Then, just as I’d begun to discover “biocenosis,” I stumbled across “hylozoism.” You see, a biocenosis is a group of living organisms interacting within a defined geographical area. Hylozoism is the philosophical idea that even inanimate matter is somehow living; so maybe a group of rocks can form a community? One ancient Christian theologian suggested that even “things” might have a soul. And it made a great movie called Star Wars. However, “the force” or the “soul” in the movie was limited to “living things.”

In our day, the “Hylozoists” are a instrumental band playing classical and non-classical instruments in Canada; they started in Halifax and draw musicians from a variety of other bands. There are nine regular members, but thirty-two musicians have, at one time or another, played with the “Hylozoists.” Their music has been described as “sounding like the introductory soundtrack to a movie.”

This is the thirteenth of sixteen weeks in our “Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith” asking,“What is the church?” And the answer is, “The church is the community of all true believers, who are Christ’s body in the world, continuing the work of the apostles.” From Ephesians 4:[4-5] “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”

So the church is a spiritual biocenosis, a group of people interacting (worshipping the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) in a defined geographical area (a neighborhood, a city, a state, a nation, and to the uttermost parts of the world). Church is also the name for our habitat; it’s where we physically gather for fellowship, study, and worship. But we are too often divided by our walls or our labels, our arrogance, our pride, our self-centeredness and the literal walls of our buildings.

Fortunately, we are also drawn together by our love of one God and one book, the Bible. It’s the “Greatest Book You’ve Never Read” and we’ll be talking about it during the weeks before Easter.

Most churches will let their walls down during Holy Week and gather with other churches at noon for short worship services and lunches. It’s one of the few times we can get outside the walls of our local church and realize the church is much larger than “my church!” So I encourage you to participate in your city’s “spiritual biocenosis during Holy Week?”