Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? That’s not necessarily a bad question. Our heavenly Father has no grandchildren. You can’t be a believer by association.
Yet nowhere does the Bible say, “You must have a personal relationship with Jesus.” Instead, when Scripture talks about faith, it says that you are entering a family (Galatians 3:26). You are members of a body (1 Corinthians 12). You are one of many bricks building the church of God (1 Peter 2:5). In other words, when you become a Christian, you are not just having a personal relationship with Jesus; you are entering into a community of believers.
Why is this so important to understand?
So much of our lives have become solo operations. We sit in our bedrooms alone, stuck behind our screens. Even when we leave our dungeons, we find ourselves listening to the latest podcast through our earbuds, unable to interact with the people next to us.
This process might allow us to absorb quite a bit of information, but it cuts us off from others, giving the impression that we don’t need one another.
But that’s not how Christianity works. Allow me to explain four reasons that you need others to grow in your Christian faith.
1. Support. Jesus promised us that in this world we would have trouble (John 16:33). You will lose loved ones. You will suffer. It is inevitable. But you don’t have to experience pain and loss alone. The family of believers will share the burden with you. And in the process, you will find rest for your soul as they point you to your Savior.
2. Encouragement. Some of the trouble in our lives is our own doing. Evil is easy, even natural, for us. We inherited this selfish disposition from our first parents, Adam and Eve. That’s why the Scriptures say that If we claim to have no sin, the truth is not in us (1 John 1:10).
When we sin, we can confess our sins directly to God. But there is nothing like admitting our faults to another person, especially the one we sinned against. Repenting of sin and hearing from another human that we are forgiven in Jesus’ name breaks the chains of guilt and shame.
3. Insight. The Bible is quite possibly one of the strangest and most challenging books you will ever read. It is a library of 66 books that record thousands of years of archaic history in a far-off land. At the same time, we believe it is true and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
To bridge the gap between its ancient origins and its modern relevance, we need help. So Christians draw upon the wisdom and insights of theologians (both dead and living), pastors, and fellow believers so they are equipped for every good work.
4. Accountability. The book of Hebrews encourages us to gather together to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). “Spurring” doesn’t sound pleasant, but sometimes we need someone who loves us enough to tell it to us straight. We all have our own unique bad behaviors, which, if unchecked, will lead to our destruction. Therefore, we need someone to tell us to get our act together and return to the faith we had at first.
I pray that you have a personal relationship with Jesus, that you trust in him and put him first in your life. But if you truly want to grow in your faith, you must gather with other Christians. That’s how God designed the Christian faith. It is a family, a community, a body of believers so that we all might work together to become the renewed people God has called us to be.