“…you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” – Ephesians 2:19–22 (NIV)
There is, today, a growing belief that the essence of Christianity is simply and only a confession of faith in Jesus as savior. There is no real need for life-changing, life-challenging, life-chiseling growth in the context of community. As a matter of fact, many Christians now argue that Christian community is actually an impediment to healthy Christian growth. This is an understandable sentiment, as nothing is more helpful in reminding you that humans are not perfect than trying to do faith-filled life with imperfect Christians.
There is one big problem with the mindset that we can be healthy Christians outside Christian community: It is entirely unbiblical. Paul, the “salvation by grace alone” trumpet-blower was also ruthlessly committed to Christian community. He was convinced that there was no way a Christian could mature in Christ by him/herself. This is why he states that we are “joined together” and “built together.” And, while it is true that every believer has the Holy Spirit, when Paul says you are “a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit,” that “you” is the collective, plural “you.” His meaning is clear, the Holy Spirit dwells in community.
Why is this important? From the beginning, our need for God’s grace has always been demonstrated by two things: selfishness and division. Selfishness is all about your needs being more important than other. Division is all about removing the impediment to your needs. Every sin can be traced to self, and every sinful action leads to division. It is through the redemption of Christ that selfishness is replaced with selflessness and division with unity.
We need each other precisely because we cannot become what God designed us to be outside of each other. We cannot overcome selfishness in isolation. Selflessness is only experienced, learned, and practiced in community. We are better together precisely because being together is what makes us better.