Contending and Community

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The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that while the personal component of our faith is primary, we do this Christian life together… Knowing the Bible, reading good books, praying, and even exercising faith in God’s future mercy—just like most other aspects of the Christian life, these find essential expression as solo activities, yet they are never intended to be exclusively solo activities. Bring any one of them into a live community context and they take on a different character, one that is complementary and additive and helpful and absolutely necessary to the kind of Christian life Jude is exhorting us to pursue.

Furthermore, Christian community also includes some things that cannot be done alone. These are primarily the ways we love and serve one another, echoing the fact that Christ loved and served us. These are the “one anothers” of the Christian life, practically manifested in things like spiritual conversation, sharing your struggles, encouraging and praying for one another, giving people rides, serving on ministry teams, helping with service projects, offering hospitality, preparing meals for one another—all the things that contribute to an actual shared life. These can create a richness of community that is uniquely Christian, testifying to the world and to one another of the love of Jesus.

Taking personal ownership of our faith must include an active role in community. Growing in godliness is never exclusively a solitary activity. We need community if we really are to live out our faith. We need other believers alongside us to encourage, challenge, and sometimes correct us. Our participation in the local church is itself an act of contending for the faith as we grow together in the grace and knowledge of God.

—Adapted from Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World

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  • http://twitter.com/GlassHouseTheo Glass House Theology

    I think contending together is a hard concept for most people. We are taught to be individualistic and completely self-reliant. We downplay the fact that no one is successful on their own. So to be a part of a people who are charged to “do” life together… it is hard to fit that in the societal mold.

    Thanks for the post!