Pastor Chris Tweitmann
In conversations with fellow believers, I often hear the comment,
“I can believe in Jesus and be his follower, but I do not need to be part of the Church.”
This is slowly becoming the majority opinion of Christians.
Is Christianity a private affair? Can discipleship be a solitary activity?
Can a person follow Jesus but not be a part of the Church?
Despite what we may think or want to believe, the answer to all three questions is an undeniable and resounding, “No.” This is not the way Jesus established for us to follow.
Jesus came into this world as a part of a family. When Jesus launched His ministry, proclaiming the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, he immediately gathered 12 disciples around Him. He taught them as a group. They prayed and traveled together. Even when they all abandoned Jesus, Christ faced the suffering of the Cross unto death as His way of embracing all the world.
For the Cross reveals the relational nature of both our salvation and our life. The vertical beam represents how our salvation comes out of our relationship with God. The horizontal beam represents how this redeemed and everlasting life encompasses our relationship with each other.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He reassembled those who had fallen away back into a company of faith. He appointed them as the leaders and foundation stones of, not an individualistic, solo venture, but of a new community to be birthed and grown by the Holy Spirit. Jesus commissioned them to baptize all those who would follow Him. This baptism was intended not only to unite each person to God but also to incorporate that person into the Body of Christ, the Church.
To follow Jesus, to flourish – to be rooted in Christ – is to belong to the Church. The first generation of believers clearly understood this. They gathered regularly and “devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and the communal life, the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Community is a constituent element of Christianity.
Somewhere, somehow, we’ve lost sight of this. Join us this Sunday as we probe more deeply the truth that trying to make it on your own is not the way of Jesus. Jesus was a relational bridge builder. If we would follow Christ, we must become relational bridge builders too. This is our second benchmark for living into the future God has called us to as Grace.
Together we will explore what this means, what it looks like practically, and why it matters so much. It should be a thought-provoking conversation, guaranteed to stimulate further discussion. May it be the beginning of a dialogue that leads us not only reach up to the Lord in worship but to reach out towards with compassion.
Grace to you!