There’s an old saying that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.
There’s an incredible amount of pride in that statement, but it’s a notion that we all fall into at some point or another. We fall victim to the idea that our way is the only way and we’re better off on our own.
For the Christian, this is an especially dangerous notion. God didn’t create us to walk the earth alone, but rather in fellowship with other believers. This has been true from the beginning of time.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18
It isn’t coincidental that immediately before this in verse 17, God issued his first commandment to Adam – that he not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God knew that walking in His ways would be nearly impossible alone. The fact that the fall still came is a sign that no one is perfect aside from God, something we have to take into account when dealing with other people.
One of the best things about the church is that it’s made up of all kinds of people. Mechanics, doctors, farmers, housewives, teachers… you name it and there’s a church that has one. This variety of people can also be one of the most difficult things about the church. I would venture to say that if you’ve never had a difficult situation at church, you’re probably not very involved. The difficulties that arise from mixed views and personalities can make you think it would just be easier for everyone if you walked away.
Maybe it starts by stepping away from your volunteer duties. If you simply attend service, no one will step on your toes. Until the pastor says something that goes past your toes and stomps up your shins and even takes out your knees.
Then one Sunday you’re tired and you figure the live webfeed will be just as good as being there. Before long, you’re a name on the roll and someone in the office is asking around to figure out who you are and if they should still send you a birthday card.
You still claim your Christianity. If anyone asks, you aren’t turning your back on God. You might still even be spending daily time in the Word. But you’ve decided to walk the path on your own because other people make it too hard.
The Bible says something different.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
Have you ever tried to have a discussion with someone who has never been challenged before? They take the very fact that you disagree with them as a personal affront. Walking, learning, and growing with other Christians allows you to reinforce your understanding of God by being challenged.
You have to know what you believe and why you believe it because someone next to you might view a passage of scripture differently. When both of you sit down and study it together, you’ll walk away with a greater faith and closer walk with God, even if you still disagree.
In A Noble Masquerade Ryland makes his own life difficult by trying to do things the way he always has. He refuses to include Miranda in the discussions, though he later sees that bringing her perspective into the investigation would have given them the information they needed to solve the mystery before anyone got hurt. He even limits the amount of help he’s willing to ask for from his team of former agents and reformed criminals.
In Hebrews, Paul reminds us what a gift salvation is, how blessed we are to be able to connect directly to God through His son. He calls us to draw near to God, to have faith and be cleansed. We are to hold fast and be loyal. And then he tells us to do it together.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
After these verses, he admonishes us not to keep deliberately sinning. By proximity alone, I have to think that all of those are tied together. Drawing closer to the Lord is assisted by the fellowship with other Christians, which – when properly encouraged – leads to the strength to avoid sin.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Sometimes we are the man who falls. Sometimes we are the friend who helps another up. But as the verse says, how awful it would be to be the one who falls alone.