Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Context of Spiritual Growth

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity...for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forevermore." -Psalm 133:1, 3

Spiritual life is not meant to be lived alone. Christians are not supposed to live in monasteries and seclude themselves from other Christians. Neither are Christians supposed to stick to themselves and try to 'go it alone' without going to church and fellowshipping with other Christians. No, Christians are supposed to dwell together. We are supposed to live this live in unity and oneness. We are supposed to growth spiritually in the context of community. David says that this community is pleasant. In fact, David concludes that when brethren dwell in unity is when the Lord commands blessing. The blessing described is life for evermore.

Your spiritual growth hinges upon your involvement at church with other believers. In Ephesians 4:15 the Apostle Paul speaks of not being children any longer but speaking the truth in love to each other so that we can grow to maturity in Christ. Christianity was designed by God to be a community made up of people who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and who are striving to live like Jesus in every aspect of life.

There are scores of passages in the New Testament that point to the spiritual life in context of community. In fact, most of the epistles of the New Testament are written to churches, not individuals. So the instructions given within those epistles are in the context of community, not singular life. Consider the instruction to the Thessalonian church to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Most people, myself included, often think of these three verses as instructions for the individual Christian's life. But when we stop and think about what it means in the context of the community of believers, it takes on a whole new level of understanding. How does a church rejoice always? How does a church pray without ceasing? How does a church give thanks in everything?

Even in the earliest beginnings of the church we learn that spiritual growth was meant to happen in a culture of community. Acts 2:42 says, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers." Here in the early church where the majority of the church had only been saved for a matter of hours, we learn that they continued together. They learned the apostles' doctrine together. They had fellowship--community--with each other. They ate together and prayed together. They were a church that was growing together.

So how about you? Are you growing in the context of community? Or are you attempting to go it alone and do this whole spiritual growth thing by yourself? Remember, you might increase in knowledge on your own, but you will not grow spiritually on your own.

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