March 2, 2019

 

This is a follow-up to “Why Am I Alone?”

 

The Body of Christ, the church, is made up of the saints, the disciples of Christ Jesus. As such, no one saint is ever alone. We are, in fact, instructed to gather together.

 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:23-25

 

Among the reasons for this is to provide one another with encouragement and instruction, to spur one another on to love and good works, and to worship together. We are called as a body, a group of believers.

 

The paradox, one of many in Christianity, is that although we are called to be in unity, there is also an individual aspect to our faith. Each of us has an individual relationship with our Creator in addition to our corporate unity. And although God works all things together in His overall plan, we are at times called to do something individually. The plan of salvation is relatively the same for each of us, but each of our stories are unique. The end result of restoration is the same for each of us, but the working of our sanctification is uniquely our own.

Our faith needs to be our own, even though it is a gift from God, and it can be encouraged and nurtured by others. There are times we are called to be alone just as Jesus went into the wilderness and Paul, after his conversion, went alone to be taught by God. And let’s not forget the prophets who were often alone when operating in their prophetic office, including John the Baptist. Likewise, their may be times we are called to a wilderness experience or an assignment for the sake of the Kingdom or our spiritual growth.

 

It is unfortunate that in the current institutional church culture this individuality is not encouraged. The group or tribe mentality promotes sameness above individuality. While stating individuality in word, sameness is encouraged in practice. This type of limiting control is one way of stifling the moving of Holy Spirit in a congregation. Without the vibrancy of Holy Spirit, spiritual maturity is also stunted.

 

As with nearly everything in the Christian life, there is a fine line of balance that we need to find and lay hold of. We are not called to sit in judgment of, and to limit one another. We are to nurture and encourage one another. This is what exercises our faith and brings the increase leading to spiritual maturity.

 

We come to God in faith, which is the gift of God. We grow in faith, which is by the grace of God. We are encouraged in our faith, which is the work of God through our fellow believers. We are brought to maturity in our faith, which is founded in an intimate relationship with God.

 

While so much of our “Christian” culture focuses on ministry and others, God is calling us to Himself as individuals. We are called to salvation as individuals. We are each called to develop an intimate relationship with our Creator. We are individually given spiritual giftings by Holy Spirit. We are going to be called upon to give an individual accounting for our lives.

 

If we neglect the individual aspect of our Christianity, how can we truly develop the corporate side in a manner that is pleasing to God? Yet, so often today is the corporate experience given preeminence over the individual aspect. Church; need I say more. The church service or the church body experience is the focus for many – an attitude fostered by the institutional church system itself.

 

Church leadership ought not be a chosen career, rather it should be a calling by God, Jesus Christ being the head of the body. And such leadership ought not exist to be served by the body in order to perform ministry to fulfill a vision of the leadership team or person. The call is for servant-leaders who are to encourage believers and assist them in their sanctification as they move to a position of maturity of faith. This is the making of disciples as opposed to the nurturing of servants. We are to mature from infants and servants, merely obeying commands, to be presented as sons and daughters of God that we may co-labor with Him.

 

It is now that we are to develop our intimacy with God. It is now that we are to learn to hear the whisper of God directing our steps. It is now that we are in training to reign and rule with Christ in the Kingdom of God.

 

The gifts and offices in the body are for serving one another, not to be served and put on a pedestal. We are to trust that God causes all things to work together for good. That does not require control and manipulation on our part concerning fellow members of the body of believers. What would the impact of Christianity be if all members matured in their faith, heard the voice of God, and in obedient love fulfilled their destinies in the Kingdom of God? Spiritual life is so much more than gaining heaven and avoiding hell. For men and women of faith, everlasting life begins in this life both for the individual and for the corporate body of believers.