November 22 I Friday
“But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’” —John 20:25
Some people could be told the same thing by a hundred different people and would not believe it because it exceeds the boundaries of human logic and they were not there to experience it themselves. This was the case with Thomas, who was not present when Jesus first appeared to His disciples after His resurrection. From this account, we learn a vitally important aspect of the Christian life.
Standing apart from other believers is going to leave us vulnerable to doubt. The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation. Again and again, God meets with us within a context of fellow believers and works communally among us. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Ephesians talk about being built together into one body of which Christ is the head. Paul writes, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
It is true that a person comes to Christ individually. At the moment of repenting our sin and placing our faith in Christ, we are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. Within that body, we become part of a new community, where we have different gifts and functions that are designed to work interdependently with one another. We must not and cannot seek to live in isolation from a community of believers. That is why Christ gave us the church––to be united as one body for God’s work in this world.
We often hear people say that they can be a Christian without being part of the church, and there is a technical sense in which that is true. However, we will never thrive as a Christian, nor reach our full potential outside of a community of believers. Many people attend church occasionally, while others go to one church one week, another church the next week and will watch at home another week. They do not commit to one congregation, and when they run into hardship, they find it difficult to cope because they lack an established presence in the fellowship God intended us to be a part of.
It is not purely incidental that Thomas doubts when he had been separated from the group of disciples. Thomas’s experience tells us how essential it is for us to become a part of an assembly of believers, who together, meet with God, study the Scriptures and pray collectively. Isolation will inevitably take the fire out of our hearts and our lives, but when we come together we are nourished, supported and encouraged in our spiritual growth as Christ intends for us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me find the place where You know I could best serve You. Help me to become part of a loving, caring community of believers, Amen.