We live in such an individualized culture. We have so many personal freedoms and the ability to make many individualized choices. This is a tremendous blessing, a blessing that we often take for granted; and yet it can also be a stumbling block to growing deeper in our faith. How so?
Certainly to have faith is an individual thing. We each individually choose to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but to live faith requires a community. The Be 323 Life is one of faith that is lived in community. I John 3:23 states, “And He has commanded us, to believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ.” That is an individual decision to believe in the name of Jesus. But the verse continues, “… and to love one another as He has commanded us.” Following this command to love one another requires community both for people to love and for the accountability to be loving.
Certainly there are those times and people in which love comes very naturally to us. We have close family members, dear friends, and cherished coworkers. But most of us also have that person or those people that are much harder for us to love; people that we genuinely don’t prefer to be around or that drain us of our energy. Yet when we talk about loving one another “as he has commanded us,” that is not just about loving the people that we want to love.
Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which the unlovable person was the one who showed love across an ethnic divide. This was Jesus’ model for how we should love one another. On top of that, Jesus said that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. How many of us just naturally love our enemies? Living this type of love requires that we are in community with a group of people who will nurture us in practicing our faith, of being loving.
It is because of this, that we believe that living the Be 323 Life requires community. To practice our faith in isolation is inherently impossible. Community can happen in a variety of ways like smaller groups of accountability and fellowship, or it can happen in connection with a local congregation (like these). The form that the community takes is less important than the need for community to form around us. We simply aren’t meant to do it alone.