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When God calls us to Himself, He also calls us to His people. Here are some of the benefits of Christian community I have discovered in my life.
- Faith was Caught. I did not grow up in the church, so when I became a Christian I was soon introduced to a dynamic group of teenagers in my youth group who were committed to living out their walk with Christ. I looked up to guys like Scott Patty, Robbi Fischer, Marshall Albritton and others who were profoundly impacted by the gospel. You may have heard the saying “more is caught than taught.” I was under some great teaching by my youth pastor, David Busby, but seeing these young men live out their faith at school and in society had a tremendous impact on me as a teenager. They helped me visualize what it means to follow Jesus.
- Friendships & Mentors. There is no bond like those which are formed “in Christ.” Scott Patty and Robbi Fischer are guys I have known since I was a freshman in high school. In college, guys like Bill Maynard, Ray Pendley, Dave Tate, Mark Berry, Todd Burkhalter, David Cropp, and others, encouraged me on my journey. I get together each year with Scott Dean, Paul Winters, and their families; friendships that were formed in seminary. Also, I had mentors in my life, such as David Busby and Scotty Smith, who invested in me and taught me so much about the faith. The churches were I have served, including Brentwood Baptist, have allowed me to continue developing several rich relationships – too many to name.
- Practicing the “one another’s” of Scripture. Only in community do you get to practice the “one another’s” of the Bible. We are called to love one another, serve one another, encourage one another, etc. Life may be easier as a Lone Ranger, but not nearly as enriching. Living in community is part of the work God has done in my life. He has refined me through the messiness and challenges of relationships. He has encouraged me through the kind words of a friend. He has sharpened me through the examples of others who exhibit great faith in adversity. All these growth opportunities are only available in community.
- A Good Offense and a Good Defense. Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” I was in a LIFE Group this morning where I was encouraged to pursue putting my faith into action: promoting “love and good works.” This helps with the “offense” part of my faith. But I need a good defense as well. Another part of Hebrews tells us: “But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” I check in regularly with a friend and accountability partner; we help one another make the choices we want to make. This helps insure that my heart is not deceived into believing the lies of temptation. This provides a defense against the deception of sin.
How has God used Christian community in your life?
1 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Heb 10:24–25.
2 The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Heb 3:13.