“I belong to Christ, and I also belong to everyone else who belongs to Christ.” E. Stanley Jones.
The Christian journey is a communal journey not a solitary journey. We journey not just with the Lord but with each other. We are bound to each other in the fellowship of the cross and the empty tomb. We are part of a community.
In a culture like ours, that prizes rugged individualism, the communal nature of the Christian faith cuts across the grain. We are tempted to want to belong to a “church of one.” But belonging to Christ means belonging to each other. The two are inseparable, at least in the mind and the ministry of our Lord.
And why? Why a community? Why did the Lord form a community of disciples right from the start? When he ascended into glory why did he leave a community of disciples as the evidence of his living, loving presence in the world?
Because he is the God all love. And he is at work to make us new creatures who will one day be able to love as he loves. And the only way that we can learn to love as he loves is in community. We will never learn to love as Jesus loves on a deserted island or on the top of some mountain the wilderness. We can only learn to love in relationship, with others.
So the Lord puts is squarely in community –in marriages, in families, in work groups, in friendships, in a congregation – and says to us: “Love one another, as I have first loved you.”