When I first became a Christian, April of my freshman year of college, I found myself constantly at battle with the desires and habits I had once sought fulfillment in. The sin that had consumed my life with ease I now was trying with all my might to defeat. At college, I was fairly effective at killing those desires and chasing the Lord. I lived with a solid Christian guy who was helping disciple me. I was actively a part of the on campus Bible study and I found myself surrounded by men and women who were awesome at encouraging my faith. However, when school ended for the year, I found myself back at home for the summer surrounded by much of the temptation and sin I had once been so enthralled with. What’s more, I had no real Christian community around me. This scenario led to a deadly summer filled with more failure, grief, and shame than I had EVER experienced as a non-Christian. It was as if satan knew that I was an open target with no protection who would be easily deceived. He took advantage fully.
We see examples just like this all over the Bible. David walks in victory as a man after God’s own heart winning battles by God’s power for His glory surrounded by men who were just as committed to the faithfulness of God. Yet when he takes the throne as king of Israel, those men no longer surround him and in 2 Samuel 11, David commits adultery with Bathsheba ruining his reputation and family unity. On the other hand, in the swings of the brand new Church after Jesus’ ascension, we see Peter struggling to be a man committed first and foremost to the Gospel. He befriends the Gentiles and shares the Gospel with them as God commanded him. However, when the Jews show up to the party, Peter shrinks back from God’s calling on his life to Gentiles for fear of the ridicule of his own people. Peter however was not alone in this struggle. Paul witnessed his fear and called him out on it according to Galatians 2. Peter had a brother with him to hold him fast to the truth of the Gospel. It was this fellowship that helped refine, strengthen, and maintain Peter’s faith.
We have the same need today. Jesus surrounded himself with thousands of followers and yet he was closest and spent the most time with Peter, James, and John. The Trinity is a perfect example of God’s design for mankind to live and thrive in community. God made us for community and community is especially important in our fight against sin and toward holiness.
Crossfit is no stranger to the power of community and many would argue that it is the community of the gyms around the world that have caused Crossfit to thrive. The support shown in workouts and in day-to-day struggle is much of what keeps people coming back. That community is also a major catalyst for growth. Yet in our lives as Christians we don’t see the need for it. We put off church membership. We would rather spend our time watching TV than meeting intentionally with other Christians. We run from the idea of open, transparent relationships with Christian men and women who would press us toward the Gospel and away from our idols.
Hebrews 10:25 does not give Christians the option of living in isolation. 1 Corinthians 12 indicates that without the presence and gifts of other Christians surrounding us we cannot function as a growing believer. Isolation is not an option. We place such a high priority on training partners and creating environments for our growth in fitness and so often we neglect our need for honest Christian community. Which carries greater weight and value? Which ultimately brings more joy? Find men and women to surround yourself with and carry no secrets around them. Join a church! These things keep us from sin and will always be necessary to press us toward the Gospel!