Thursday, May 23, 2024


The world has convinced us that our faith is a personal matter, like almost everything else that we engage in during our lives. Our woundedness has convinced us that we're better off without the church anyway. Our concept of God, created in our image, has convinced us that wherever the Lord is is good enough for us and that He is all that we need. 

But the Bible tells a different story. 

We have seen how even when man was walking in the garden in the cool of the day with God, God looked at the man and His heart broke. Something was wrong. Something was not "very good." The man, in the full presence of God, was alone. 

We have seen how when Israel returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt the Temple and the Lord's glory came and filled the space, there was something still missing. Without the people of God, the Temple, even filled with the presence of God, was empty. 

We could keep going. Look at the way that Jesus traveled - not with one man, but with many men and women. He chose not one disciple, but twelve. He continued to do things with them as a group, and even when He was engaged with a single human being for a moment, there were so many others around. Others who, like Him, were not made unclean by a bleeding woman pushing through the crowds. Others who, like Him, would recognize the sacrifice of a poor widow. Others who, like Him, would see the extravagant gift of a sinful woman. 

The men and women around Jesus had Him with them, in the flesh, so close they could reach out and touch Him, and yet, we can count on one hand the number of times He engaged truly one-on-one. 

Our faith was never meant to be personal. It was never meant to be individualized. It was never meant to be a private matter between us and God. 

The faith of the faithful, of God's people, has always been a communal faith. 

So when we convince ourselves that we don't need the church, that we can be anywhere on Sunday morning and still worship the Lord, as long as He is there with us...we have to hear the voice of God who is watching us while we're fishing, sitting on the couch, mowing the lawn even in honest prayer, and He shakes His head and says, "This is not very good. This man is alone." 

When we turn on some worship music in the private of our own homes, crack open our Bible, fill our space with the goodness of God, we have to know that even in the fullness of the space, God says there is something empty about it. 

When we believe that it is enough for us to walk with Jesus on our own, to know Him and to love Him - and even to love Him earnestly - we have to open our eyes and look around and realize that there never was a man who followed Jesus all by himself. There were always others around; that's how Jesus planned it. 

In our individual faith, we think that when Jesus talked about preparing a mansion for us, we're going to one day get to heaven and find a million billion mansions all lined up in a row on perfectly-manicured streets of gold, each with its own little mailbox outside. But that's not what Jesus said. He said the place He is preparing for us is a place with "many rooms," and He does not intend those rooms to sit empty because we can only be in one place at a time. No, He's filling those rooms with the faithful, with friends and neighbors who aren't going to live next door to us, but right down the hall. In the mansion God is preparing, we're going to live together

Shouldn't we start practicing now? 

No matter what the world says or how much spin you try to put on it or how much you want to justify striking out on your own, there is no such thing as an individualized faith or a personal Lord and Savior. There is only Christ, only God. 

And God so loved the world

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