Yosemite National Park is home to three groves of impressive ancient giant sequoias. They are sometimes referred to as the largest living things on earth, reaching almost 250 feet in the air and standing for as many as fifteen hundred years. One would think that the only way a tree that size could stand the storms of life would be because of a root system that would go deep into the earth. But that is not the case. Surprisingly, the roots of each tree grows only about four feet into the ground. The difference is that sequoia trees grow only in groves and their roots intermingle with the other sequoias next to them. Each tree is able to stand strong because every tree is dependent on the others. In other words, no sequoia grows alone.
The same could be said for believers in Jesus Christ. Throughout the bible, community is always emphasized as well as commanded; it is never presented as optional. Some have the misconstrued perception that the Christian faith is private. There is no question that it is indeed personal, but never private. From the development of Israel to the building of the church, God has always gathered his people by way of community. The word for church literally means “the called out ones,” emphasizing that believers are called to Christ out of the world and placed into the community of faith.
The apostle Paul described the church as the body of Christ, with each believer making up a part of that body. If you study his teaching in 1 Corinthians 12, you will notice that every part is interdependent of every other part. Using Paul’s analogy of the body, consider the big toe for a moment. Of all your toes, the big toes are the most important because the play the most critical role in maintaining your balance. Without the big toes the body couldn’t function properly and would suffer instability as a result. In other words, proper function of the body is dependent upon every part performing its assigned task. Paul concludes his teaching on the church by pointing out that every believer makes up the body of Christ and has been especially gifted to make the body strong and victorious in completing God’s call on earth: “But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.”
As we move into a new church year with positions of leadership and service needing to be filled, I pray every member consider the importance of their role in the body of Christ. There is no job too small and no committee or team too insignificant.
The writer of Hebrews had something to say about the importance of community as well: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Fulfilling His Purpose,