“After Christ’s work on this earth was completed, God continued to work through the Holy Spirit to create and empower a new community characterized by mutual servanthood, radical equality, and an unprecedented sharing of power and resources. Their experience demonstrates that spiritual life and power are to be found only in community… Biblical community is a commitment to take the spiritual journey together, to be present (in face-to-face relationship) with each other as we are transformed by an increasing connection with God and with each other.”
~Ruth Haley Barton, Equal to the Task
Barton claims that “spiritual life and power are to be found only in community.” She doesn’t say spiritual life and power are enhanced in community. She doesn’t say community will make us better Christians or that community is the preferred way of walking with Christ. She says rather emphatically that it’s the only way. Does that resonate with you? Or do you resist it?
In Ephesians 4, near the end of a discussion about the unity of the Body of Christ, the apostle Paul writes that if God’s people will live and worship and serve together we will grow. It’s in this community of mutual service and love, within the context of this devotion to one another in the name and manner of our Lord Jesus, where we grow up and “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
As a result of life together, we are “built up,” we are unified in both faith and knowledge, we grow up in Christ. Together we are stabilized against any false teachings. Strong. Confident. Sure of our salvation and our purpose in the Kingdom of God. Well supported and coordinated as we stretch and grow.
God is at work to form community, to create a people. We are not a bunch of conglomerated individuals. We are members of the Body of Christ and we all belong to each other. The call is to hold firmly to our Lord and walk with him as we live with and for one another. Together.