Community Keeps You From Drifting

by David McLemore January 3, 2017

"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."
— Hebrews 2:1

No Christian can stand alone. The idea of "lone ranger" Christianity is not found in the Bible. It is a human invention. After all, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). God's creative intention requires companionship.

We cannot understand God by ourselves. C.S. Lewis understood this. He wrote about it after his friend, Charles, died. He and Charles were part of a great friendship group, The Inklings, that spurred one another on. Lewis says,

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah 6:3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall have.”

Friends draw out different aspects of one another. A community of people draws out all sides of one another. We can't really understand a person without understanding them in the context of others. Take another example, a grandfather with a grandchild. It may be that the son or daughter of the new grandfather grew up thinking he was a hard man. And then the child is born and they see the tenderness of their father that must have alway been there somewhere. The child draws it out in a way that you and others cannot. It may very well be that he's always been that way – he was that way with you as well – but you did not have the chance to see it because you were the child. Sometimes it takes growing up a bit and having a child to see who our parents really are.

It should not surprise us, then, that it is the same when it comes to God. We understand God best when we are in community with other people. As we sit in a circle and talk about God from a text from the Bible, we begin to see the fullness of who he is. That aspect of him will stand out to one, another aspect to someone else. As we make our way around the circle we begin to lose our truncated view of God and begin to see him in his fullness. We need each other to see more of God.

The Bible speaks of this. Hebrews, for example, is written not to a person, but to a community of persons. The author knows the vital importance a community provides.

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened . . .

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 4:1-2, 10:23-25)

All Christians want to stay close to Jesus. But to try to do that on your own is to set out to fail. We need others to help us stay close when we are prone to drift.

We've all seen the war movies. As the invasion begins the fleet of ships run full steam toward their positions. Each one moves along with the other, gaining energy from one another. Fear is aboard but it is veiled by the determination and importance of the mission. The Christian life is that way. You never see a solitary ship heading into battle. It takes a fleet to support an invasion.

The author of Hebrews knows that left to ourselves we will drift because we will begin to believe the lies of Satan about Jesus. The fullness of God's glory will start to chip away, and no one will be there to patch it up. Our sin will deceive us. We will begin to float away.

Community keeps you from drifting. People reminding you of the gospel keeps you steady and sure upon the waves of life.

Originally published at Things of the Sort

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