We Americans live in a culture that emphasizes individual autonomy. It is in the air we breathe: “You do you” and “I’m going my own way.” While it is salutary to stress individual freedoms with respect to coercive governmental power, this stress can be detrimental. When it comes to living the Christian life, individual autonomy is an illusion. You can’t be a Christian all alone. You need other Christians.
A Biblical Pattern for Community
To remain and grow as a Christian, churches and pastors are necessary. In addition, you need other Christians to help you live the Christian life, and other Christians need you to help them. The Letter to the Hebrews stresses this point. Consider Hebrews 10:19-25:
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; [emphasis added] and all the more, as you see the day drawing near (NASB).
The author speaks of Christians “stimulating one another to agape-love and good deeds.” They are to “encourage” each other and “not forsake the assembling together” as the church.
An Individual Christian Faces Resistance
Living a Christian life is tough. Jesus did not sugarcoat it. Christ calls us to take up your cross and follow him. He warned his disciples: “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matthew 10:22 NASB). As we walk on this path, we face resistance, the opposition of the principalities of darkness, of the world in its fallenness and of our sinful flesh. Precisely because the Christian life is so tough, every individual Christian needs other Christians. In the effort to remain and grow as Christians, we need each other, and the continual exhortation and encouragement of fellow Christians.
Christianity Is Not Simply “Jesus and Me”
Christianity is not simply “Jesus and me.” The New Testament is filled with statements using the expression “one another.” For example, the apostle Paul wrote, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). By connecting us to Himself the Lord Jesus connects us to each other. And it’s a good thing. You can’t live the Christian life alone, all by yourself, as an isolated individual. You need other Christians.
Approved by the Instructor of the Theological Seminary for the College of Theology on Oct. 10, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.