As we have spent time this summer thinking about the nature of the church, we have seen that the Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. As a matter of fact, Christian community is one of the primary ways God intends for his children to grow in wisdom, maturity, and faith. This can be seen—both implicitly and explicitly—all throughout Scripture, and it lies at the very heart of some of the most fundamental ideas of what it means to be a Christian.
The book of Hebrews gives us an idea of what this community looks like—“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24–25). The Christian life involves stirring one other up and encouraging one another through the trials and difficulties of life, and these things would be impossible for a lone Christian to accomplish on their own!
Scripture presents many commandments like this which can only be obeyed in the context of community. Consider these examples:
- “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
- “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
- “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed’ (James 5:16).
- “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21).
These commandments (along with many others in the Bible) serve as a direct challenge to Christians who seek to exercise their faith in isolation. How can we possibly hope to admonish, encourage, bear burdens, exercise patience, confess sin, or show love with no one else around? We might be able to fulfill the first half of the Great Commandment, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37), but we could not possibly fulfill the second, “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). Jesus tells us that our entire faith can be summed up in these two commandments; and yet, apart from community, we could only ever hope to fulfill half of it!
In the wisdom of God, our spiritual wellbeing is dependent upon other Christians. As we confess sin, ask for prayer, and receive encouragements, challenges, and rebukes, God actively uses these things to contribute to our Christian growth. As we provide the same for others, our growth increases all the more. As a church, we hope to provide as many opportunities as possible for this kind of community to exist and flourish. And as we do, we trust that the Lord will faithfully work to grow His people into the likeness of Jesus, just as he promises in his word.
All the best,