“And 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
Since the pandemic, one of the phenomena in the emerging generation is how people do church today. Many people are customizing their engagement with church and discipleship by utilizing digital platforms to grow in their relationship with Jesus. While it is great to have access anytime we want to biblical content that is helpful to build us up in Christ, we cannot enjoy a fulsome discipleship simply through virtual or digital platforms.
The troubling trend in the church today post-pandemic is that many people are thinking, “I don’t need church. I don’t need community. I don’t need the hassle or conflict that it brings to my life.” Unfortunately, the conflict that inevitably comes up in community is a fundamental part of God’s formation in us. When we engage in-person weekly in worship, we inevitably get into conversations or discussions with people who think differently than us, who challenge our perceptions and who have different spiritual gifts than us that we desperately need in our lives. We actually need the conflict of community, when we spend an inordinate amount of time together. Everyone has a best before date—a shelf life—and some of ours may be shorter than others.
As we study the Scripture, we will find there is actually a gift in community, even in engaging in conflict and sin. Jesus calls us into those difficult spaces because He knows that problems are going to arise when we are in relationship with one another. To surround ourselves only with digital discipleship and friends who think like us, talk like us and act like us is actually the opposite of what Jesus calls us into in Scripture.
Christ reveals Himself in a more fulsome way when we are participating in the larger, broader body of Christ. He shows up in different ways when we are gathered together and fellowshipping with one another than He does when we are just on our own listening to content.
Although life in community is difficult, it is also essential to a bigger experience of who Jesus is because He is the Church. If we are relying on virtual or digital platforms as our means to grow in Christ and receive discipleship, may we make the effort to attend church in-person on Sunday and get connected in community. Or, maybe we attend church regularly—is there someone that is living the Christian life outside of the community that we can invite to church with us this Sunday? We are not meant to experience Christ in isolation, as Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Dear Jesus Christ, even though it is hard to press into community, may You stir up within me a desire, a longing to experience the fullness of all that You have for me. Thank You, Lord.