“So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:19-22.
We all have things in our life which are personal. We all have personal goals. We have personal values. We have things that we are personally responsible for. We have feelings and attitudes that are personal. We employ a personal trainer to help us shed pounds and get that coveted beach body. We open a personal bank account to manage our finances. We also desire a personal, ongoing personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
But, how do we do that? How do we move closer to the prize and live a life of joy that Christ has for us? How can we have the faith to put our trust in Him? How do we live a life founded on the belief that God will fulfill His promises? My answer to those questions, in part, may surprise you a little bit. God never intended for any of us to live the Christian life alone. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is not really that personal. Before you call for my ouster, let me explain. Yes, we can know Jesus personally, but that personal relationship is best nurtured and grown in a community of other believers.
It’s a process that is revealed in the “each other” language of the New Testament: Love one another, forgive each other, regard each other more highly than yourselves. Teach and correct each other, encourage each other, pray for each other, and bear each other’s burdens. Be friends with one another, kind, compassionate, and generous in hospitality. Serve one another and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. This list just scratches the surface, but it is enough to remind us that we need the community of faith to grow our relationship with Christ.
We have been talking about prayer the last few weeks. The only prayer that Jesus taught us to pray begins, “Our Father,” not “My Father.” Jesus calls us into a living, active, worshiping community that regularly meets together. We partake in communion together. We sing together, pray together, confess together, grieve and heal and eventually die together. God gives us pastors. He gives us small groups. He gives us brothers and sisters in the faith. He gives us mature Christians to emulate and He gives us those far from the heart of God that we can share our faith with.
The church embodies a specific, personal way of life together in Christ. It strengthens us to live the life to which we are called; it conveys God’s life and power to the world at large. And it is necessary. Christianity is not a solo endeavor. We believe that personal, deepening, supportive, faith-building relationships with God are best developed in a community of other believers.
- Church is something we are. What does that mean to you?
- You may wake up on Sunday mornings and decide to go to church. But is church simply a place you go? Is church a destination or is it something more?
- How might your life look different if you lived as though church wasn’t a destination or an event, but something you are and where your relationship with God is developed?
- What can you do this week to make the church a bigger part of your relationship with Jesus Christ?