It is so easy to think of the Christian life as an individual thing. I suppose with the individualistic mindset of Western countries, this is particularly true. But the Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. We are meant to be in fellowship with other believers.
Yet there are many Christians who no longer attend church. Why? There are many reasons, but through Paul’s words, we can find one common reason. Paul wrote,
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (3)
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (16)
If there is one thing that will destroy Christian fellowship, it’s pride.
It’s a pride that says, “I don’t need other Christians. I’m fine by myself.”
It’s a pride that says, “These other Christians are at a much lower spiritual plane than I am. What can I possibly get from hanging around them?”
It’s a pride that says, “I’m at a different social status than these others. What do I have in common with them?”
It’s a pride that says, “This person has hurt me and that person has hurt me. I’m not going to go back to church until they apologize.”
But Paul reminds us,
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (4-5)
Here we see an important truth: All Christians are part of the body of Christ. And we don’t merely belong to ourselves anymore. We belong to Christ, first and foremost. But we also belong to each other.
Because all of us bring something different to the body of Christ. We all have different functions within his body. And the whole body depends on us to fulfill that function.
So Paul says,
If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (6-8)
You may think that you don’t need others. But even if that were true, others need you. And God gave you the gifts you have to bless others. Remember that in serving others, we serve God. That’s why Paul admonishes us,
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (11)
But if we out of our pride withhold what God has given us from the church, God will hold us accountable.
Always remember: we belong to the others in the church. And they belong to us. We need each other.
So let us get rid of the pride that would separate us from our brothers and sisters. Instead,
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (10)