Our Social and Spiritual Disconnections
Our social disconnection reveals our spiritual disconnection. Without a transformative experience, we will always be alone. Even in a crowded room, our disconnection from each other is not just because we lack shared interests. We cannot deeply connect without our sinful hearts being redeemed by Jesus. Once transformed by Him, then we must regularly maintain our relationship with Him. As our relationship with Christ is kept clear of sinful obstacles, only then can we truly enjoy the spiritual discipline of fellowship with one another.
Can we befriend one another without the power of Christ at work within us? Sure. Plenty of lost people and apathetic Christians enjoy deep friendships. But there is a completely different level of spiritual fellowship that we can obtain when the gospel is at the center of it all. As believers, we have the greatest answer to the lonely nature of human existence. Rather than scrap and claw for survival of the fittest, we have a community that highlights redemption. The communal life of the church reflects the love of God shown to man. As His people, we do not just display God intellectually or theologically. We show off His attributes in the way we live.
Loving Others Requires a Discipline of the Soul
When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment in the Law, His answer was quick and clear. Love God with every part of your being and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:36–39). Love is never optional. But remember, love requires discipline of the soul. It is not natural. Selfishness is natural to us. Love appears regularly for us only when we make it a habit. With fellowship, we find something that is occurring at a surface level constantly for the church. But I want to invite you to push further into fellowship as a community-born discipline that aids in propelling the mission of God.
A Together Faith
The journey of faith is best taken with friends, both old and new. As believers, we need to embrace this idea. Our culture tells us to forge our own path and “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” (though I’m not sure what a bootstrap actually is). The Bible paints a different picture.
In his letter to the church in the city of Ephesus, Paul wrote:
Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part. (Ephesians 4:14–16)
The passage highlights some important features about how fellowship helps to form us as believers. We are not called to simply walk alone in the life of faith. The very basis of Christianity is relationship. Through the person and work of Christ, we have a redeemed relationship with God. By His work in us, Christ connects us to His redeemed people to bear His reputation and carry out His mission. It is a life that requires more than just proximity to one another. A life that is set apart for Christ is one that not only communes with others but enjoys it.
The Greek term used in the New Testament that we translate as “church” is ekklesia. In its basic form, it means “the called-out ones.” We are not just a random group of people who show up at the same place to sing the same songs and study from the same holy book. Rather, we are collectively called out by God to accomplish His work according to His gospel.