Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fellowship and Community in the Church

When God first saved me, He blessed me with many amazing fellowship opportunities. For instance, before I ever attended Bible study, I had experienced the strong bonds of friendship, community and fellowship in a 12-step program. By the grace of God, I made many fruitful connections there that led me to have a hunger to know God better.

After I was saved and found a regular Bible study to attend, the friendships and community in that group of other believers was powerful and profound. In my early years, these relationships were key as I developed into greater maturity and Christ-likeness.

After a few years, however, I found myself in another country where I was unable to speak the language, deployed with a unit in which I was the only Christian. Suddenly, the Lord challenged me to rely more steadfastly upon Him alone, rather than finding my joy, comfort and acceptance in other people. My self-proclaimed need to gain acceptance from others had been a bit of an idol, so the Lord was weaning me away from my people-pleasing self. I will probably always struggle with this to a certain extent.

Alas, here I am fifteen years later, looking back from a life of experience in the Church. I must say that I was quite naive in my younger Christian years to think that the common and usual experience of one's life in the church would be that of deep fellowship and community with other believers -- people whose bonds ought to run thicker than blood and deeper than oceans. Yes, I was naive in those days to believe that. The sad, yet real, truth is that I take up my cross daily, living this life as a Christian in the Church of Christ in this day and age. True fellowship and community in ANY church is simply one of the rarest things that any real believer will ever experience or discover. Dear saints, this should not be.
Not my will but Thine be done.

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