June 30 I Sunday
“When the seventh month came and the Israelites had settled in their towns, all the people came together as one in the square before the Water Gate.” —Nehemiah 7:73-8:1
After Nehemiah helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the Israelites assembled as one body before the Water Gate. The fact that they assembled as one body meant that they were not a group of lone rangers. Just like today, we as Christians are also meant to gather together as a community of God’s people. God is not in the business of only saving individuals––one over here and another over there––but He saves and gathers us all into a community called the church.
We get energized from the church because we are in community with God and other Christians. We also receive instructional teachings from the church to guide us in our day-to-day walk with God. As the words from the New Testament writer of the Book of Hebrews urge us, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another––and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). Even in the early church, community was an important element for Christians. For those who are not in the habit of meeting together, the implication is that they are going to drift, they are not going to be encouraged, and they will find themselves isolated and distant.
One of the ways in which Paul describes the church is through the analogy of a body: “From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16). Paul is not talking about individualism here; rather, he is speaking with regards to the whole body. People are not insular. We are being held together by every supporting ligament and not by independent ligaments. Our ligaments do not live in isolation and neither do they function in isolation. They are interdependent, where each part is doing its work in the spirit of interdependence upon one another. As Christians, we are not meant to be alone but are encouraged to come as one body to grow in community with the support of other believers.
This is the New Testament picture of the church. Although we have wonderful resources that allow us to know more about God and the Bible, such as books, blogs, internet sermons, worship CDs and Christian television, they should not replace our coming together as one body. We are not intended to function alone. There is no substitute for the community of the people of God, where we meet together in mutual fellowship and interdependence.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You that I do not have to live my Christian journey alone but that You have called me into the church community with other believers. Help me develop friendships and relationships with other Christians.