Moody was visiting a prominent Chicago citizen when the topic of church membership and involvement came up. The man told Moody, “I can be just as good a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it.”
Moody didn’t say anything. He just walked over to the big fire blazing in the fireplace, removed one of the many red-hot burning coals, and placed it on the hearth.
Both men sat in silence together and watched the single ember die.
And the host simply turned to Moody and said, “Oh. I see.”
I think you can probably get to heaven without close friends. But you cannot be all you can be for the Lord without someone right beside you pushing you, lifting you up, helping you, challenging you, serving with you. We were never ever intended to do this alone. We need each other. We need the mutual loving and studying and questioning and affirming and supporting. I think better when I’m with other Christians. I sing better when I’m with my brothers and sisters. I pray better in a group of faithful believers. I make better plans. I sin less. I think about myself less. My eyes are much more open to God’s Holy Spirit and his redemptive power when I’m with God’s Church.
We cannot separate our relationship with God from our relationships with one another. We don’t belong to ourselves, we belong to Jesus. And Romans 12 informs us in strong language that if we’re in the Body of Christ, we each belong to one another. Our connection with Christ and our connections with each other are so interwoven they absolutely cannot exist in isolation.
And our Christian lives flow from there. We care for each other. We’re committed to one another. We protect each other, confront each other, sustain each other. We rejoice together. We mourn together. Together we fuel the fire. We give and receive Holy Spirit energy and we bask together in the warmth and the light. It’s in community—together—where we reach our God-ordained potential as his children.
Don’t burn out on the hearth. Jump into the fires of the community of faith.