A pastor once told of being chauffeured to a speaking engagement bya cab driver who had been sent to pick him up. The cabbie gave his testimony and
waxed eloquent about Jesus Christ until the pastor asked him what church he was part of. He replied, “I have church right here in my car. I’ve got preachers on the radio and congregants in the passenger seat.” In other words, he hadn't stepped foot in a church in years. The cabbie’s situation highlights how badly we’ve misunderstood the role of the Christian community in God’s plan for our growth in Jesus Christ. The fact is, you can’t be the kind of Christian you’re meant to be without people. You can’t be the kind of Christian you’re meant to be without real relationships in a local church family.
Much of our growth in holiness comes in the context or relationships. In Ephesians 4 Paul instructs the Christians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Did you catch that? Paul tells us that walking in a manner worthy of our calling (that is to say, holy living) happens in relationships. God isn’t interested in your growth in patience and gentleness toward yourself! He wants to grow in you a love for others that helps you bear with them. He wants you to love yourself less and love others more.
God’s plan for your life is far bigger than your individual salvation. He has saved you into a people that are his own, people who are eager to do good (Titus 2:14). He has made you a living stone in a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5). He has given each believer gifts of grace for edification of the church body (I Corinthians 12). He has called you to love your enemies and embrace those who are different from you (Ephesians 2:11-22). None of that can happen solely in your car, your office, or your family.
God has given us the gift of other brothers and sisters in the local church, who can spur us on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). In turn, we have an obligation to do the same for them. We weren’t meant to simply pursue holiness alone in our room. We were meant to grow in holiness together as the body of Christ.
—Adapted from an article by Michael McKinley
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship