As a Christian, you’re not as independent as you think. Your life is interwoven in the lives of others, and it’s not something you can escape.
Last summer Erin (my wife) and Aly (my daughter) took a spontaneous trip to Oregon to visit some close friends. While there, they made a quick excursion to see the towering redwood trees. I wasn’t there, but the pictures were breathtaking.
Above the surface, these mighty timbers stand strong and independent. They give the appearance of self-reliance and individualism, but don’t be fooled–these trees depend on one another.
The great redwoods don’t stand in isolation. You never see one by itself. Rather, they grow together in community and have an undeniable dependence on one another. Their root system is intertwined so greatly that it’s hard to tell which tree the root is connected to.
I believe this is a great picture of the church community.
It may look on the surface like you’re strong and independent, but the reality is our lives are woven together like a blended fabric. The Christian life is not walked alone. There’s no such thing as an independent Christian.
Here are eight ways you’re not as independent as you think:
To be honest, I didn’t want to lead off with this one. However, it’s important for us to remember that our sin never happens in a vacuum. Sin always impacts others in our community.
Remember when Israel was defeated in a battle against the city of Ai? The Bible records that 36 men lost their lives that day, all because a man named Achan disobeyed the Lord. Over and over in Scripture we find stories of people who sin against God and the consequences afterward affect large groups of people.
We never sin in isolation. Your sin impacts others, and others’ sin impacts you.
I love the story of the paralytic. Four faithful friends carry their buddy to Jesus to be healed. The only problem is there’s no access to Jesus because of the crowd gathered around Him. Not willing to give up too easily, these friends climb on top of the house and dig their way through the roof to Jesus.
Jesus heals the paralytic. Do you know why? Because Jesus saw their faith (Mark 2). Jesus wasn’t moved to action by the faith of the paralytic. He was moved to action by the faith of the friends.
We are united in faith with other believers. Some days our fellow Christians need to lean on our faith. Other days we need to lean on theirs. Like the roots of the redwoods, our faith is intertwined.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice.” (Romans 12:15a)
There’s a shared joy in the Christian community that certainly unites us. When a sibling in Christ has something to celebrate, we’re called to celebrate with him or her. There’s a genuine joy that overflows in our hearts when good things happen in the lives of others.
That’s counterintuitive to the worldly nature. The world says if you have reason to be joyful then I should be jealous. I should envy you, covet you, or possibly hate you because of your blessing or celebration.
“Weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15b)
Just like shared joy, there’s a shared sorrow when people in our church community grieve. When you hurt, I hurt. When I hurt, you hurt. This is the way the body of Christ functions. We carry one another’s burdens.
“So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
Your worship of God is connected to your relationship with others. God would rather you punch pause on your worship of Him in order to be reconciled with your brother or sister in Christ.
You cannot separate your worship of God from your relationship with others. They aren’t mutually exclusive but mutually dependent.
“And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:7)
Suffering comes in different sizes. At this very moment, there’s a Christian in some part of the world dying for their faith in Christ. In another part of the world, a family is learning for the first time that their wife and mother has been diagnosed with cancer. Right now a high school student is enduring the mockery of her peers because she’s reading her Bible in class.
Suffering gives believers the opportunity to pray for one another, to encourage one another, and to comfort one another. It reminds us that we weren’t made to do life alone. No matter who strong we may appear, we need the Christian community in our lives.
“This is what I command you: Love one another.” (John 5:17)
These are the words of Jesus. Not merely a suggestion to consider, but a command to obey. There should be no greater bond in the church community than our love for each other.
We should be known by our love. We should be motivated by our love. There’s no greater calling. There’s no greater glue that unites the body of Christ together.
“…while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
Hope is one of the roots that weaves our lives together. As followers of Christ, we have been gifted the Holy Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (Ephesians 1:14). We share a common hope.
Together, we share a hope that Jesus is preparing a place for us in eternity. We share a hope that He is coming back for us and one day we will rule and reign with Him! We share a hope that every promise in Scripture will be fulfilled, and one day every knee will bow down and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord!
We share this hope and this hope unites us!
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