One cannot be betrayed if one has no people.
We all have needs, but one of our needs is community, a need for others.
Even Abraham Maslow noted that next to biological & physiological and safety needs, need for belongingness is chief.
But why the need, from a Christian perspective, for others, for community?
There are many communities to which we belong. For me, there’s my physical family, my neighborhood, my small town, my Founders fraternal, my Los Guys mens’ group, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, an online community, and Providence Church.
However, of all of them, I think that the only one I would say is necessary in my life, from a Christian standpoint, is my church. They are all beneficial on some level, but only one is crucial, the family of faith. My church is an integral proponent of my sanctification. My church is a community of which I need to be a part and in which I am needed for the edification of others.
One can get by without online friends, interaction with neighbors, friends, parents or siblings, but one cannot effectively grow in the faith without a church family. It is in the context of the Christian community known as church that we practice the “one anothers” of Scripture (e.g., love one another, forgive one another, encourage one another, etc.). It is in the context of the church as community that we neglect not the assembling, so that we might be encouraged and not hardend by sin’s deceitfulness (Heb 10:24-25; 3:13). It is in that context whereby individual believers are equipped for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:11-16).
It is in this community that we are hurt & helped, irritated & infuriated, disgusted & delighted, enlightened & enraged, motivated & mortified, and taught & tested. We learn about ourselves and others, as we experience depravity firsthand, ours and theirs. We will be betrayed, but so was the Christ. We will partake in the fellowship of His sufferings, even at the hands of those we labor to help. One cannot be betrayed if one has no people, but we must have people, all of whom are fallible sinners, some of whom just happen to be saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.
We must have people because we must have the church, the community of like faith in Jesus Christ.
“For as long as Jesus insists on calling sinners and not the righteous to repentence-and there is no indication as yet that he has changed his policy in that regard-churches are going to be an embarrassment to the fastidious and and affront to the upright.” -Eugene Peterson, Reversed ThunderThe necessary community will necessarily frustrate, but in that process we develop and grow as believers, demonstrating the Fruit of the Spirit to each other: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal 5:22-23). That is godliness, the Spirit working in and through me/you so that others, particularly those in the community, will see what God is like as the Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ.
I hope we all appreciate the role the church is to have in our lives. Find a good one, if you don’t have one already. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can effectively grow in Christ without the help of the church. Don't fool yourself into thinking you're effectively following Christ without expending energy in the congregation of which you are a member.
If you do, make sure you do your part in the community to grow and help others grow as well, sharpen as well as be sharpened (Prov 27:17).
(Some of these concepts were originally assembled upon request from Stephanie to guest post on her blog Oh Me of Little Faith.)