When I was a kid, one of my favorite movies was “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I loved watching the fedora-donning college hunt down and discover ancient artifacts while single-handedly taking on the Nazi regime who sought to use these ancient treasures for nefarious purposes. All Indiana Jones needed was his brain and his trusty bullwhip by his side, and he could accomplish anything because the history he uncovered “belongs in a museum.” I spent countless hours as a child running from the Nazis and swinging from trees to avoid snakes. I think most of us at some point have idolized a “Lone Ranger” type character. Maybe it is Rambo taking on the National Guard, or Captain America, the one man standing against corruption. The American ethos is all about the rugged individual. From our rebellious founding to the pioneer spirit, from superstar athletes to Justin Timberlake leaving the Backstreet boys and going solo, we have elevated the power of the individual to the greatest good of our country. The problem is this mindset does not work in the Christian life. In fact, individualism is the complete opposite of what God wants in His kingdom and His church.
Hebrew 3:12-14 says, “Take care brothers lest there be in any of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
What these verses are telling us is that we require each other to live this Christian life. The writer of Hebrews is emphatic about how crucial it is that we stay in community with each other. He says that every day we need to encourage each other, urge each other to live in a manner pleasing to God. To hold fast to our beliefs and convictions, to stay rooted in the truth of His Word, to remember the grace that first brought us to Jesus. Why? If we try to do it alone, we will fail in our walk with Christ. Left to our own will and our own devices, we can rationalize any behavior. When we isolate ourselves from the fellowship of believers, we give sin a foothold in our lives. Sin will deceive us; it will cause us to question what is good and what is not. Behaviors that our sinful nature craves find a way of not looking so bad anymore, and before you know it, your conscience has been dulled, and the Holy Spirit working in you has been stifled.
Back in my early college years, I used to meet weekly with two brothers in Christ. We became friends our senior year in high school, and we loved hiking and canoeing by day, and hanging at the local coffee shop by night. We would sit, drink our overpriced coffee, play chess, and talk about the Bible. We would talk about what God was doing in our lives, confess our struggles, and encourage one another to live holy lives. One night at the coffee shop, my friend told us about a romantic relationship he was involved in with a girl that did not share his convictions about a God-honoring relationship. We encouraged him to stand firm on his convictions and that he probably needed to end the relationship. After that conversation, he began avoiding us, would not answer our phone calls, and stopped meeting with us for many months before God got a hold of him, and he ended the relationship.
Sin likes isolation. When temptation comes, the devil will work to tear you from the fellowship of believers. So gather together with other believers. Worship together in church. Get together for breakfast and chat over the Scriptures. Find a community of believers that can spur you on to running after God. We need each other. This Christian walk is not so much about God and me; it is about God and us.