Secular evolutionary theory teaches ‘the survival of the fittest.’ This encourages extreme individualism, competition, and selfishness. On the other hand the Bible teaches that we will flourish only in relationship with others. It is not good for us to be alone. Our God of love has made us in his image to love one another. Jesus came to bring in the kingdom of God, and to establish the community of his followers. Thomas E. Reynolds writes,
“human life seeks more than survival alone. It seeks to flourish and find itself affirmed within a larger framework of value and purpose. Life seeks delight in living; it seeks joy. And this is not something found in separateness and self-sufficiency, but rather in belonging with others. The basic question of human existence is whether there is welcome at the heart of things, whether we can find a home with others who recognize us, value us, and empower us to become ourselves. Is there space for me in the world? Is there a safe place where I can flourish? Will I be accepted and embraced….. Communities are a manifestation of the need to belong…..human beings are vulnerable beings who need each other….We all belong to a common, broken humanity. We all have wounded vulnerable hearts. Each one of us needs to feel appreciated and understood; we all need help.” (Vulnerable Communion, 118,119,129)
Belonging to God and to one another in a family, whether it is biological or spiritual, is a deep need for all of us. We do want to experience welcome. We want to be recognized, valued and empowered by others to become somebody. We are looking for safe places where we can flourish. We long to be accepted and embraced. We need each other to feel appreciated and understood.
That is why the life of the church is so important, and why true and authentic Christian fellowship is central to the mission of the church. If you read the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles you see how we are meant to care for one another, to encourage one another, to serve one another, and to challenge one another.
From time to time I meet believers who do not belong to a church. They may have had a bad experience with a church in the past, and prefer to live out their Christian lives on their own, or with Christian friends in a holy huddle of their own devising. While I am sorry that they had a painful, disappointing experience in the past, I find that there is often a certain self-righteousness in their attitude that causes them to maintain their separateness. The truth of the matter is that no group of people is going to be perfect. No church may satisfy their expectations because they are unrealistic, and they don’t want to be challenged to relate to others with whom they may not agree on everything. They will never be healed or grow in Christ if they don’t learn to get on with others, to listen, to be respectful, and to love each other as Christ has loved us, who are all imperfect.
It is much better to belong than to be isolated. We need one another if we are flourish in Christ, and to be effective and fruitful in his service.