By Scott L: Guest Blogger
In my last article, Defeating the ‘Hi and Fine’, I continued looking more at what God meant when He meant church, that is, when He meant us, the people of God, the body of Christ. The challenge is that, as we move past the simple conversations on Sunday’s consisting of the ‘hi and fine’ nature, we would now look to develop something deeper in our relationships. This is deeper than discussing theology or the Sunday morning sermon. It’s what David Benner spoke of in his book, Sacred Companions: ‘Genuine spiritual intimacy involves sharing my experience, not simply my ideas.’ Or, as a close friend of mine calls it, ‘touching the eternal in someone else.’
Sounds mystical, does it not? Of course it does. But that doesn’t mean we throw it out. It simply means that those who belong to Christ have the life of Christ within them, the Spirit of God dwelling within them. We have an eternal member of the Trinity within us. And so, in our shared life, we move towards sharing with one another the eternal things of the Spirit deposited within us.
Sounds mighty lofty, maybe only for a few. But it is truly to be the norm for Christ’s followers. True, this will not happen over night. Even after getting a taste of this some 6-7 years ago, I am still learning. And we continue to make room for our discussions about theology, college football, and our favorite restaurant. But we know, in the end, those do not fully satisfy the longing within. And why? Because we have the Spirit of God within us, and He has been sharing deep things for all eternity with the other members of the Trinity. And with Him residing in us, we truly want more.
But now, I want to move on and briefly challenge us to guard against one of the biggest enemies of the church, at least in the western world. That enemy is called individualism. We, in America, and other parts of the western world, have been so trained in the ideology of individualism. I can make it on my own, I can pray on my own, I can worship on my own, I can reach others for Christ on my own. You see the mistake with those statements. There are too many ‘I’s’. Many times, there can be too much of ‘me, Jesus, and my Bible.’
Yet, Christ called us into a body, into a family, to be part of a people. He called us into life with a variety of others who are to be joined to us, ones with whom we have covenant relationships. We know this from reading such passages as 1 Corinthians 12. For some of us, the body analogy has been overdone. But if we read the passages again, I wonder if we might find something fresh.
Jesus, Himself, spent time praying for us to be one (see John 17). And, yes, that does not mean uniformity, for then we might begin to function like a cult. It does mean one in mind, purpose, and heart. Yet, we cannot be unified in purpose, etc, if we do not first believe God joined us together into one body. As Paul said, ‘For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body’ (1 Corinthians 12:13). We’ve been baptized into the body of Christ together. That means we have been immersed in it together.
Do you see it? There is no room for individualism. It is an enemy of the purpose of God for His body, His church. Even Confucious, who was definitely not a Christian, had it right when he said:
The Master said, He who sets to work on a different strand destroys the whole fabric.
And the poet, John Donne (who was a Christian) penned it this way:
‘No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.’
God wants us to know we are not alone in this. We are not each individually Christ-followers. We are together Christ-followers. He accomplished so much through His intercession, death, resurrection, and ascension. Yes, He died so you and I could each spend eternity with Him. But He also accomplished all that we need to live life together, truly believing we have been called into this journey together. Let’s keep going deeper with one another. Let’s keep sharing our lives with one another. And the world will see something they haven’t seen since possibly the first century.
‘…that they may all be one…’ (John 17:21)
Rey’s Local Church Series.