Joshua at “In Search of the City” has published a great post called “How my journey out of institutional Christianity first began.” It’s a personal piece filled with stories and insights from his own life, but it may be helpful to others who are just beginning (or even wondering about), in the middle of, or beyond this same kind of journey.
While I can relate to many of Joshua’s experiences, one in particular caught my attention. Why? Because he talks about learning about Jesus Christ through community with others. In the same way, as I began to understand “the church” as my brothers and sisters in Christ and not a building or system or organization, I also began to know Jesus more.
At one point, Joshua writes:
[M]y life became closely knit with a small group of brothers and sisters from all parts of the country and all different walks of life. For the better part of three years we ate together, worked together, played together, and studied together. And in the midst of it all, we pursued the Lord. We fellowshipped and we shared the mutual discoveries we each were making along the way. It was in this context that I began to catch a glimpse of the Lord Jesus Christ that was bigger and better than any small view I’d ever had of Him before. In addition, I began to see the church. Not an “it,” but a she. I saw her passionate, loving, drawn from His side. Not a place, but a people! Relentless in their pursuit of Him.
There is something special about sharing life with one another as we share our common life with Christ. As Joshua recounts, he later recognized this same kind of fellowship in the pages of the New Testament – in passages that often seemed foreign to him before.
Paul wrote in Ephesians that believers are God’s treasure and inheritance. I think if we understood how truly valuable we are to God, we would begin to understand how important and valuable we are to one another. In community with one another in Christ we grow and build one another up in maturity and love… knowing Jesus more.