What have we learned throughout the pandemic? One of the common trends is that, while quarantined, many of us picked up some new skills. Some individuals have turned to baking and sourdough ad nauseam. Others have turned to the arts – whether they be crafting, painting, or even music. One other thing that has been highlighted by this whole reality is that we are social creatures. I think back to the words of God to Adam, “It is not good that man should be alone . . . “(Gen. 2:18 ESV). We are social creatures.
Is it any surprise then that one of the central tenets of the church’s creed is a focus on community? “I believe in . . . the communion of saints.” (Apostles Creed) Isn’t that interesting? In the midst of the twelve original articles of the most ancient creed of the church you find a call for community.
The church is reflective of the new humanity God is building by His Word and Spirit. The church may be described as those purchased with the blood of God’s Son, and sanctified by His Holy Spirit. But none of these personal applications of God’s gift for us remove our need for one another. Some Christians today might say otherwise. But I think we have all learned through this quarantine season that God’s declaration in the Garden of Eden still rings true today.
A much later Confession of the Church, the Westminster Confession of Faith (AD 1646) speaks to this idea of community. In chapter 26, “Of the Communion of Saints” we read: “[Christians] being united to one another in love . . . have communion in each other’s gifts and graces . . . “ (WCF 26.1) We are not called to be isolated. This is important for all of us to recognize today because the temptation to withdraw is always looming. But God has blessed us to be a blessing to others. God has not gifted you so that you can hide these talents and abilities under a rock. You have been charged to use them for the good of those around you, and chiefly so in the church.
There is of course a flip-side to this dynamic. In turn, you, as well, stand as one in need of other’s gifts. In our congregation, we regularly use the language utilized by those in the Biblical Counseling world that we are both “needy” and “needed” and that both are expected of creatures.
Life is incredibly difficult. We may have our jobs plucked from us, or our health. We may have friends abandon us, or betray us. We may undergo bouts of serious mental anguish, and perhaps even other forms of suffering. All of these things are somehow made lighter as we learn that we do not confront our foes alone. A Christian is never truly alone: Christ stands with you. Here we are reminded of that great promise of Christ, “I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20 NKJV)
Christ has gifted His people both Himself and the church to walk through life’s dark vale. He has not only united us to Himself as our Head, He has bound us to one another. We are not free to disregard our brothers and sisters, but look out for their good. We are to look towards their growth. Hebrews compels us, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25 KJV)
My prayer for you friend, wherever you are today as you read this, is that God would burden you with this serious awareness that you are not meant to wander through this life alone. But God has gifted Himself to all those who repent and believe, and has given the church as a place to be built up and not torn down. May you grow in your love and affection for the people of God in mind, body, soul, and strength, all to the praise of holy God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for His bride, the Church.