Several years ago, I purchased a braided hibiscus tree. Actually, there are four plants braided together so that they appear as one solid tree. When I looked into how this was done, I was amazed at how the plants were trained to grow together. Now, after almost 10 years, the trunks of these four trees are so entwined that they look like they naturally fit together.
Too often, we have this idea that growing together happens naturally. Instead, it takes work and intentionality. While Christians are already united together in Christ (Eph. 4:1ff), it takes work to maintain and foster that growth together. The picture that Paul presents of the Church in Ephesians 2:11-22 is that of individuals being brought together, built up together to form a dwelling place by the Spirit. God is saving individuals and he is building us together. But how does this happen?
First, we grow together as we are brought together in Christ. Growing together happens because we have been planted in the same soil of Christ Jesus. Our commonality of being “in Christ” means that we have more in common than we have as differences. Too often we focus on our differences rather than what unites us.
Second, our aim is the same – to grow up into him who is the head – Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:15). Pastor A.W. Tozer once described Christians as all being tuned to the same tuning fork, which means that they are all being tuned together (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God). By being tuned together and aiming for the same goal, we will find that we are continually growing together.
Third, there are practical ways that we grow together. Our spiritual lives are not individual pursuits of God alone; we grow together as we gather together as a church and study God’s Word together, hear his Word proclaimed to us together, and worship together. A Christian’s growth will only go so far as an individual.
Finally, we grow together as we study the history of the Church. Our cultural moment blinds us to current trends and issues. Christians who lived before us saw things in a different light and expose us to the realities of God’s grace in ways that will illumine our cultural moment and help us to live faithfully for King Jesus. We are surrounded by a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ – saints who’ve gone before us and run the race.
You were never meant to be a Christian in isolation. We are meant to grow together as a body, as believers, as a family. So won’t you make it a priority to focus on Christ and gather with his people as we mutually submit ourselves under the Word?
Desiring to grow with you,