Summary: There are no self made Christians. The Communion of Saints is vital to a Christian’s life.
American society tends to idolize the rugged, self-made individual. We admire their individuality, and their ability to overcome adverse conditions, excel, and achieve their chosen goals.
¨ Donald Trump overcame the stigma of his father’s prosperous New York real estate business to become a real estate mogul and a billionaire.
¨ Bill Gates struggle with being a computer geek and a drop out from Harvard, rising to the top of the computer world and becoming the richest man in the world.
¨ John F. Kennedy rose above the fact that he was a multi-millionaire, whose millions had been earned from bootleg whiskey to become President of the United States.
¨ Our current President overcame the secret history of his father who served as CIA chief, and who always found himself in deep do-do.
The words, “self-made” and “Christian” is an oxymoron; they do not belong together. In fact, self-made cannot describe a Christian. Christian faith is always a gift from God, and nurtured in the family of God.
A CHEERING SECTION
The writer to the book of Hebrews paints an interesting picture is the twelfth chapter. The scene he visualizes is similar to a marathon race whose miles are lined with spectators and cheerleaders who encourage the runners and inspire them to greater performances. The runners have the same goal. Their focus is on the finish line and Jesus. In order to reach the goal, however, they need to be spurred on. They are strengthened by the presence of others, as they run toward the goal.
The picture that the writer to the Hebrews paints is also a fairly accurate picture of life. As Christians we are to change our goals and priorities of life and focus squarely on Jesus. Fellow Christians then support and encourage us as we strive for our goal. They pray for us, challenge us to excellence, celebrate our victories and mourn our defeats.
Our individual goal is no different than the community’s goal. All of us focus on Jesus. All of us seek to use our talents and abilities to serve God and to meet the needs of others. Together we are better able to achieve our goals, than if we attempt to accomplish these goals individually.
In modern terminology, we are called to work together as a team, realizing that crossing the finish line and attaining our goal is a team effort. Each person is a valuable member of the team and is essential to reaching the goal and accomplishing the mission to which we have been called.
A PLACE TO GROW
We see in Acts a description of the life changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When people received the gospel message and placed their faith in Jesus Christ, one of the first things that they did was become a part of the community of faith. Together they studied the Word of God, worshipped, fellowshipped, and prayed. In early Christianity there were no hermits or monks who sought to escape the world and be on their own.
The early Christians were still involved in life and faced the challenges of life. They continued to early a living in a variety of ways and struggle with the demands of family. At the same time, they were a part of the family of God and incorporated that dynamic into their lives.
An old African proverb, which was popularized by Hillary Clinton, goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In reality this is true for both adults and children. We never out grow the need for others and interaction with them to enable us to grow strong and healthy in our Christian faith.
The community, or communion, of saints prepares us for service.
A PEOPLE THROUGH WHOM GOD MOVES
The early church was not a holiness club. The people did not study, worship, fellowship and pray together as an end in and of themselves. These activities were used to enable them to be open to God’s movement in their lives, and God moved in a mighty way.
The unity of the early Christians allowed the Holy Spirit to move powerfully and touch the lives of thousands of people outside the Church. The writer to Acts says that many people were drawn into the fellowship of the Christians and received the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The movement of the Spirit caused the Church to grow quickly and spread the kingdom of God to the distant corners of the world. The Spirit was able to move more powerfully in the people of God than in a few individuals who called themselves Christians.
The communion of saints is not a perfect fellowship. We are a community of sinners and saints really; we are both/and.