These early Christian fathers determined to separate themselves from the rest of the world but amusingly after a relatively short period grouped together to learn from the more senior ones and became cloistered groups of ‘monks, which in turn resulted in ‘monasteries’ the forerunners to today’s Theological colleges, missional centres, schools, and hospitals.
Even the best intentions of being separate culminated in a coming together. The fundamental reason behind this is that God made us for community.
No Christian has ever been called to go it alone in his or her walk of faith. This is a fundamental principle we see throughout scriptures.
Here at Oasis Family Church one of our mission statements is ‘Grow Together’ and that emphasises this exact point. Spiritual and relational growth of a person can only happen in community.
The old African saying that it takes a village to raise a child here rings true for faith as well. With such a rich array of Christian experience that turns up to churches every Sunday, failing to meet can hinder your ability to grow, be challenged and exposed to God’s voice in a communal setting.
When the Holy Spirit opens your eyes to the truth of Jesus and you accept Him as Saviour, The Holy Spirit indwells you. Along with this He bring you gifts.
Good gifts, some to encourage yourself and some to bless others with. If we fail to meet with each other, the church misses out on these gifts. Paul describes each of us being like body parts, all needing to work together in perfect synergy to make the body effective. Can you imagine a body without a leg, or without sight, sound? What about without something vital like without kidneys, or without a lung? Things become hindered, arrested and things are harder. Gods not honoured through the withholding of talents and gifts from his family.
What about those super annoying people? Those ones that just rub us up the wrong way. How do they help us to grow?
Let’s refer to them as God’s sandpaper. Growth usually doesn’t come about in the isolated environment of ease comfort and pleasure. Spiritual and character growth comes more often or not through adversity. We work hard at studies to achieve learning; we work our bodies physically to ensure we can achieve a goal like a marathon. It’s true that discipline and not desire determines our destiny. God’s sandpaper people are the ones that show us our intolerance or lack of empathy or patience. They are the stretching kind of people. These are the people that Jesus also came for. I think it could be assumed Matthew the tax collector could have been one of these. Despised for his role by his fellow countrymen for collecting more tax than due and profiting from this. Jesus called Matthew into the fold of the twelve, there would have been strong feelings toward Matthew from the others, but Jesus is ok with people that rub. It’s good for us to lose those sharp edges.
Growing together is a journey we all choose to enter when we walk into church. Following Jesus is a daily agreement to become more like Him. Growing together in community and in unity delights God in us.