Two Person Standing Near White Church

Thanks to all of you who have been reading these articles. I hope that they are insightful and helpful. If you ever have a thought or a topic that you think could benefit other readers, please send me a message, and I’ll work on it. 

Along that thought, these next two articles will focus a bit more on the differences and relationships between each of us as individuals, and how we [should] interact as a community.

Most of us have heard the phrase, “There is no I in TEAM.” 

Growing up playing basketball in Indiana definitely drove that saying home for me. I have to admit that I pushed myself to be a high scorer and to have the best stats I could, but when it came to exceeding and winning games, the entire team was vital. 

If one person had an off game, it would affect the team. I would always be extremely frustrated when the entire team was forced to run extra sprints when one person was late, or if someone missed a free throw or lay-up. But in retrospect, I realize that it just helped to reinforce the importance of the team. We are all in it together, for good or bad. 

In this individualistic culture—outside a large close-nit family— it seems that the team environment is the closest we can get to help us understand the collective nature of the Jewish society in the Old Testament. The same collective emphasis applies to the Church.

I think for a lot of us “westerners,” the word “collective” might sometimes be thought of as synonymous with “unanimous” or “democratic,” but that’s not really the case.

We are in a culture where people strive for independence and self-reliance. Depending on others appears to be a weakness. It is maybe a lot “easier” for us not to engage in authentic relationships, but the cost of that ease is an experience that is miserable, lonely, and not what God intended for us. 

C.S. Lewis’ quote from his book, The Four Loves, sums up the conclusion of a life with an individualistic worldview. 

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

— C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

When we read the Bible, it is essential to understand the context of what we read and who the original audience was. For example, the book of Ephesians was a letter written by the apostle Paul to a church at Ephesus. To be successful in fighting spiritual warfare, as followers of Jesus, we must fight together as a team. Those who try to go it alone are like the poor, lone or wounded elk outside the herd that gets taken out by a pack of wolves. 

Isolation is dangerous not only spiritually, but physically. In fact, studies have indicated that loneliness has the same risk as smoking for heart disease.

As we look at the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus Christ emphasized how important each church body was as He shared encouragement to some and rebukes to others. Although in the churches that were rebuked, there most certainly were individuals who weren’t guilty. There certainly would have been individuals in the church at Thyatira not involved in evil, but the entire group of believers was rebuked because they didn’t take a stand against the false doctrine of the woman likened to Jezebel. 

It is important for each individual believer to not only be a part of a local church community, but play an active role in that community. Whether it is as a prayer warrior, a teacher, or volunteer in some capacity, getting to know other believers and encouraging and helping other believers draw closer to Christ and spirituality mature is critical. 

A friend of mine told me that she thought that most people go to church so that they can receive something, but it really should be the other way around too. I think she’s right.

There is a spiritual war going on around us. We must lock arms together as a team. It’s like when someone is late to practice and everyone runs, when one part of the body of Christ is suffering or falls, it affects everyone else.

But regarding the Church, we are on the team that’s already won and remains victorious despite the trials and tribulations. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

Romans 12:15–16

Let’s defy the worldview that tells us it’s all about the individual and show the world what God intended for us. 

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

When someone is in need, we lend a hand 

When we are wronged, we forgive each other and reconcile. 

When a brother or sister falls, instead of being annoyed and irritated at them for messing up like I was when someone missed a lay up, we offer grace without grumbling and pick each other up. 

We do this because Jesus laid down His life for us so that we could have eternal life by simply believing in Him for it (John 3:16).

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