“I can’t imagine how anyone can make it through life without God!”
“I don’t know how anyone gets through life without Christian community!”
I woke up this morning with gratefulness as I thought about the way God works in my life to bring encouragement through other believers. Then later today, I found myself in a conversation with two ladies decades my senior making the same assertions.
And I realized that someone who doesn’t know this life in Christ would probably not know what they are missing. In other words, “They don’t know what they don’t know.” I remember that world.
But strangely, sometimes I find myself slipping into that world, into old habits of self-sufficiency. The world teaches us to be strong and independent. But that is not God’s way.
I think He allows us to go through certain things – hard things – to draw us back into communion and dependence on Him. And as part of that amazing connection with Abba Father, He has designed us to be in communion and dependence on His children, our fellow heirs, members of the body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
It is both exciting and humbling to read Jesus’ prayer for us the very night of His betrayal. After He prayed specifically for His disciples, He turned his care toward future believers:
“I do not ask on behalf of these [disciples] alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me,” (John 17:20-21, NASB).
Here, we have a record of Jesus pouring out His heart for you and me! Jesus! This unity thing must be really important for Jesus to be focusing His attention and prayer on this subject matter while Judas was out there actively contriving against Him to bring about His crucifixion. “The hour” He had spoken of at various times throughout His ministry had come, and He was thinking about us and Christian unity.
So, do we share that same longing and appreciation for oneness with our fellow believers?
I know that as I go through crippling disappointments and uncertainties, I desperately need the prayers, encouragement, support and admonition of trusted friends who share in the knowledge of our loving, sovereign God. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
And when everything is going all right, I find myself in the words of that old hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:”
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
Hebrews 3:12-13 instructs us: “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Whether I’m in a dark valley or on a high mountain, life without these friendships is unthinkable to me now.
And as Americans, the Christian journey is growing more complicated and difficult as public policy continues to deviate from truth and order. As lawlessness becomes the new law of the land, unwavering Christians are being pushed out of the public square as unclean.
The writer of Hebrews further advises us in Chapter 10, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (23-25, NASB).
We need to stand together.