I love Jesus, but I can do without the Church. Jesus is Lord, but I follow him my own way, by myself. I’m a Christian, but I don’t need the Church. I don’t need to be part of a church to be a Christian.
Um… I’m not sure Christians have a choice.
The term “solitary Christian” is an oxymoron. Like Jumbo Shrimp. Rap Music. Military Intelligence. You can’t be “clearly confused,” you can’t fight a “civil war,” there are no “paid volunteers” or “open secrets.” And there’s no such thing as a “solitary Christian.”
Yes, there were times when our Lord went alone to the desert or up on a mountain to pray. But it’s much more typical in the Gospels for Jesus to be interacting with people. The eyewitnesses paint a portrait of Jesus consistently mixing with the multitudes, meeting strangers on the road, hanging out with friends and family. The most repeated picture is of Jesus eating and drinking with gusto in the homes of sinners and saints, with prostitutes and Pharisees, men and women, Jews and Gentiles. He was a people person.
Jesus was a supremely social, communal person. Whatever it was the Father called the Son to do, Jesus had no interest in doing it by himself. Just a casual glance at Jesus is enough to tell us today that we are living fully as God-created humans, not in our solitude and silence, not by ourselves, but in our connections and relationships with others. If we’re going to be Jesus-followers, then we have to be people people. You’re not really a Christian if you’re doing it by yourself.
Think about it: every time they asked Jesus, “What’s the single most important command?” he flatly refused. Instead, he always answered, “No, no, no. There’s not just one most important command; there are two: Love God with everything you’ve got AND love your neighbor as yourself.” Almost like one of those makes no sense without the other.
God in Christ is encountered, not in a solitary prayer in a closet, not in meditating on a mountain, or coming to the garden alone. In the Bible, Jesus mainly shows us God, reveals God to us, allows us to see God and experience God, at a dinner table, sharing good food and drink and conversation and hospitality with others.
We need God, yes. And we so desperately need one another.
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