This is the fourth entry in a series of posts by Brian Hardin, author and founder of Daily Audio Bible. In his previous essay, How the Bible Was Meant to be Read, Brian looked at the inappropriate assumptions and approaches we often bring to Scripture. Here’s his latest essay, drawn from Brian’s book Passages: How Reading the Bible in a Year Will Change Everything for You.
Too often we experience faith in a solitary way. We rarely think of it in terms of “us” and “our,” and frequently see it as “me” and “my.” But we can’t mistake these Western, individualistic values for biblical values. The Bible is clear that living in community with other believers is irreplaceable in the Christian life.
The early church worshiped and lived communally. The Bible provides a detailed snapshot of what the church looked like at the beginning: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
First Corinthians 12 says that we’re all interconnected as the body of Christ, and so it’s not possible to be free-standing, isolated entities. It’s not possible to survive without each other. The bad news is that living in community requires sacrifice. The good news is that we can survive and thrive in community. The great news is that we have permission to be ourselves within community. We’re uniquely placed. Our role is irreplaceable and our value immeasurable. A good many of the troubles that arise in community seem to come from our brokenness and insecurity, and so much of this happens because we ultimately think we’re on our own and that we can survive that way. We can’t. When the body works together, there is enormous power to heal, restore, and renew what was sick and dying.
Once we understand with clarity that community is vital to our spiritual survival, we can begin to celebrate the beauty of how God has woven us together as one body and how important we are to each other’s survival. Together we can participate in the abundant life Scripture describes; apart from each other we cannot. The Bible gives us our orientation to God and the baseline for living in community. It challenges our motivations and gives us the deep wisdom it takes to function as the body of Christ.
Christ is living in and through us (John 14:20; 17:23; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27), and we, in community, are the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. As such we are commissioned and commanded to do the work of heaven on earth, and together, we have the incredible privilege of being participants in his kingdom coming and his will being done on earth as it is in heaven. This is how God has chosen to get his work in this world done.
What would happen to the world if we actually believed this? What would happen to the body of Christ if we believed it?
Watch for the next post in this series later this month! In the meantime, you can read more of Brian’s writing in Passages, or follow his work at Daily Audio Bible. You can keep up with him each day at his blog, Twitter feed, or Facebook or G+ pages.