In other articles, we have come shown for various reasons, that Christians are not called to be “Lone Rangers” but we are to actively participate in the Church of Christ. The Bible is quite clear that Christians are expected to be in close, intimate and personal contact and communication with Jesus; our God is, after all, a relational God and wants to fellowship with us. What does the Bible say about this?
Interestingly, when God’s days of creation were over, and He personally came and formed man (Adam) out of the dust of the earth, He soon noticed that all was not perfect in Eden, for as Genesis 2:20 says “…. there was not found a suitable helper for Adam.” Until that point, Adam had been alone with only God as company, yet God considered that it was not good for Adam to be alone.
God Himself was not alone, there being three persons in the Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. God has been a relational God from the very beginning and in His on infinite He wisdom declared that it is good for mankind to be in a relationship with others, to be in a community.
God holds “community” in high regard. He expected Adam and Adam’s descendents also to be in community, not to be loners, as Genesis 2:24 explains saying “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.” Then in Genesis 4:17 Adam and Eve’s son Cain “built a city.” The city of Enoch is the first city mentioned in the bible and it is still only the beginning of the Bible and still in the times of Adam and Eve’s children. “Community” and close personal relationships for mankind, as we can see, were foremost in the mind of God from the very beginning.
Throughout all of the Old Testament, God longed for His chosen people to come to Him and fellowship with Him and him alone. But again and again His people rejected Him and He turned His back on them, desperate though He was, to have a relationship with them.
The Old Testament of the Christian Bible ends in Malachi 4:1-6 with these words:
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a fire pot; and all the proud, and every doer of wickedness, shall be chaff. And the coming day will set them ablaze, says Jehovah of Hosts, which will not leave root or branches to them.
But to you who fear My name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise, and healing will be on His wings. And you shall go out and frisk like calves of the stall.
And you shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day which I am preparing, says Jehovah of Hosts.
Remember the Law of Moses My servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel, the statutes and judgements.
Behold, I am sending you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah.
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons, and the heart of the sons to their fathers, that I not come and strike the earth with utter destruction.”
The final words of the Old Testament are all about relationship and community, as He withholds His wrath and pours our his grace on mankind. This is truly the characterisation of a loving and hurting Father. Then for four hundred years, God the Father was silent and spoke nothing to His chosen people while He prepared for the resolution to the problem, a unique and macabre resolution, the crucifixion of His Son on a cross. The incredible words of the prophets were to come true.
Then as Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to heaven, a new era dawned, as He undid the effects of the Fall. This change was not just related to individuals and their salvation, but was related also to our relationships with God and our relationships with others.
Before Jesus went to the Father, the only communication with God was through the Temple Priests. Now with Jesus seated on the right hand of God the Father as our full time King and Priest in the order of Melchizedek, we have access to God the Father all the time, through Jesus. We can approach God the Father directly through Jesus and the Holy Spirit who has come to live within us. God has established the means of a personal relationship with Him, however, it is still up to us to turn to Him and communicate. God desperately wants us to communicate with Him and that none of us be lost.
As well as providing a means of communication with Him, God also established a community in which His people could live and thrive – His Church. Paul, in Ephesians 5:23-30 explains this saying:
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself as the glorious church, without spot or wrinkle or any such things, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
So men ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord loves the church.
For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.”
The Church into which all Christians belong, comprises two parts:
1) The Universal Church: the Church of Jesus Christ which extends to cover the whole of the earth and reaches back in time to the very first Church. However, it also extends forward and lasts throughout eternity.
2) The Local Church: the Church of Jesus Christ which consists of the local congregations to which we as individuals belong.
We can easily see that in and through both The Universal Church and The Local Church, we are inextricably linked to all other Christians who were, who are and who are to come throughout the whole globe. When we are saved and come to belief in Jesus and all that He has done for us, our lives are no longer our own We can no longer live in the old ways of the world. John 15:19 explains this, as Jesus says, that “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
Jesus saw His believers are being set apart from the world in which they lived. Christians are in the world, but not of the world.
Paul explained this new covenant relationship with Jesus and His Church in First Corinthians 12:13 saying “For also by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body [Christ’s Body], whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, even all were made to drink into one Spirit.”
Here Paul uses the word “body,” in the Greek “σῶμα” or sōma the body (as a sound whole) as in terms of the human body. It is not used here in the alternate English meaning of a group – e.g. a school body or an institutional body.
As in any human body, all the cells and parts of the body serve different functions, as do each and every individual in the Church; some are eyes, some ears, some hands and some feet. All Christians in the Body of Christ similarly perform different functions, and all are indispensable to the welfare and the completeness of the whole.
Christians grow because they are part of the body – being stretched and strengthened and those around them are stretched and strengthened. Colossians 2:19 adds to this saying as: “all the body, having been supplied through the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God.”
Clearly, Paul is teaching here that our spiritual life depends on being an active part of the Body of Christ, of a Church.
But the role of Christians in a Church and in the Body of Christ is more than just being functionaries or functional parts. Ephesians 1:4-5 says we have all been adopted into the family of God “according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…” This adoption into God’s family gives us the right of all Children; the free and unrestricted access to our father, in the Christian case, God the Father.
Paying honour and respect to an elder is one thing, paying honour and respect to one’s own father, is quite another. For Christians, as adopted children of God, we have the right to call Him “Father,” and to call on Him at any time. We can call on God individually, and we can call on Him with other family members, those in our Church, or indeed in any Church, anywhere on earth.
Why is prayer and communication with God often more spiritual than when we pray alone? Jesus tells us the answer in Matthew 18:20 as He says that “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” Here we can see that it is not only the large Churches which are of benefit to Christians; small groups are too, indeed, often even more so. When the disciples were awaiting Jesus at Pentecost, as Acts 2:1 says “… they were all with one accord in one place.” Being in “one accord,” being in complete agreement, is just simply much easier when the group is small.
In His ministry, Jesus spoke to His disciples and followers saying: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. As I have loved you, you should also love one another” John 13:34. In the family of God we have been given the perfect opportunity to reach out and actively “love on another” as Jesus asked us to do. I ask you; If we can’t do it there with our own Christian brothers and sisters, where else can we do it?
The Bible also gives us practical instructions on how to do just that:
|Pray for one another.||James 5:16||“Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.”|
|Share one another’s troubles.||Galatians 6:1-2||“Brothers, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you the spiritual ones restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the Law of Christ.”|
|Honour one another.||Romans 12:10||“… in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honour.”|
|Get along with one another.||Romans 12:16||“… minding the same thing toward one another, not minding high things, but yielding to the lowly. Do not be wise within yourselves.”|
|Be Kind to one another. Forgive one another.||Ephesians 4:32||“And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.|
|Consider one another more important than ourselves.||Philippians 2:3||“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.”|
|Comfort one another.
Encourage one another.
Teach one another.
|First Thessalonians 5:11||“Therefore comfort one another, and edify one another, even as you also do.”|
When we look at the list of commands required of us regarding “one another” it can seem daunting at first. However, we need to look at it in another way. As First John 4:19 says “We love Him because He first loved us.” Jesus has exampled the love we need to give others. As we move closer and closer to Jesus and as our relationship with Him grows, we will be changed from the inside out, as our salvation is worked out in us. As we slowly come to resemble our Master, as we slowly become more Christlike, it will become easier and easier to step out in faith and do new things. When this happens, we will not see these things as a burden, but as a joy!
The Bible says there is no such thing as a Christian “lone ranger.” All are called to fellowship with Him and with one another. Jesus expects all Christians to be in Church and in fellowship and communication with other Christians and in that, growing! It we are not growing in Christ, we have a problem which needs to be urgently addressed.
If you need us to pray in support with you, please contact us via our Prayer Request form. We’ll be glad to pray together for and with you.