Community Commitment: The Importance of the Church
Who passed the faith on to you? Who gave you your first Bible or explained the meaning of the cross in a way you could understand? Who influenced you to keep persevering when you felt like giving up?
Not long ago, I was awakened to the necessity (and challenges) of passing on the faith to the next generation. I walked into a Sunday school classroom prepared to assist the 8th grade teacher -- but she never showed. A family emergency prevented her from arriving on the very first day. Did I mention I'd never taught Sunday school before?
While my teaching skills won't be winning any prizes, we all walked away mostly unscathed. But one thing became clear to me that day - these middle schoolers needed someone older and wiser to mentor them or their faith won't survive life's challenges.
Of course, we can't expect 8th graders to make and keep radical, lifelong commitments to Christ without assistance when even the apostles who personally knew Jesus relied on one another to grow in faith. In Acts, we see Peter and the others sorting out the details of early Christian doctrine among each other. And Paul's letters, some of the most quoted versus in the Bible, were written for encouragement and instruction to individuals and Christian communities.
One reason we rely so heavily on one another is that God set it up that way. He created the Church with Christ as the Head and you and I - believers -- as the Body:
But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love. Ephesians 4:15 - 16
In our individualistic society, it's easy to reduce faith down to a personal preference or a private journey. But just as our bodies rely on our organs to work together to thrive, the Body of Christ relies on its members to work together to thrive. So whether we like it or not, we're part of a community and people depend on us. While I don't always feel like the "perfect" Christian, God wants to work through me - and you - to further His work here on earth.
We all have at least one person who acted as a vehicle of God's grace in our lives. This week, honor a pastor or teacher who was influential in your faith journey. If you're not already mentoring a younger believer, find a way to get involved. You don't have to be perfect!
Sarah Phillips, Crosswalk.com’s Family Editor, embraced faith in Christ at an unlikely phase in her life: as a skeptical undergraduate at Virginia Tech. She now enjoys putting her VT English degree to use at the Salem Web Network by observing and reflecting on cultural trends, marriage, family life, and the human condition through the lens of Christianity. When she’s not writing or editing, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband, Corey.