Why Church Matters to You

June 15, 2010

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and reposted for your consideration and comments.

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community… Let him who is not in community beware of being alone…If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It is simple, really.  We are pre-wired by our creator to live in community with others.  This is doubly true for Spirit-filled believers.  Not only do we have our natural inclination toward community, but God’s design for His church is that His Spirit would manifest itself through individuals in a way which binds the community together.  In other words, we are actually stronger together than we are alone.  And we learn more together and grow Spiritually together.

We are not unlike the giant redwoods of the Western United States.  The largest single living organism in our world, these trees grow to be hundreds of feet tall and live thousands of years.  Walking among them is one of the most breath-taking experiences I have ever had.  But did you know that a giant redwood cannot survive by itself?  It can only grow to its fullest measure in community with other redwoods.  The reason is simple…it has no tap root.  Rather, its root system spreads out laterally in every direction, searching for root systems of other redwood trees.  These magnificent creatures actually “join hands” underground, their root systems growing together and becoming one system.  They actually draw their strength and their growth from one another.  It is why you will never find a fully matured giant redwood growing all by itself.

By that same token, there is no such thing as a “lone ranger Christian”.  We are intended to live in community with other Christians, allowing the Spirit in those other Christians to minister to us and to grow us, while that same Spirit works similarly through us to benefit others.  We may not like other Christians, we may not enjoy being around them, but we have no viable alternative.  Our Spiritual growth requires Christian community.

As a Christian who has felt wounded by the church, I must come to grips with this and figure out a way to be back in community with other believers.  As a church, we must open our eyes and see the steady stream of Christians leaving our fold, and move to do something about it.  From either perspective, we must come to understand that living outside of any Christian community at all is simply not an option…any more so than a fish choosing to live outside the water…or a giant redwood attempting to live without other giant redwoods nearby.

Our dear brother Bonhoeffer had it right…let him who cannot be alone with God be wary of being in community with God’s people, and let him who cannot be in community with God’s people be wary of being alone with God.  Words for the wise…

© Blake Coffee 

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