Communion of Saints
July 21, 2015
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” -Hebrews 12:1-3, RSV
Christianity is not practiced in isolation. We have all heard people who claim, “I can worship God better alone on top of a mountain than with a crowd in the most beautiful cathedral.” But how many of them actually do it? And, it must be noted, Christianity consists of far more than worship. It includes fellowship and service. It invariably involves a community of believers. We can think of our attending worship as being much like a football team huddling before a play. It is a time away from the action when we can organize ourselves for the next play.
Our ”play” is what we do in ordinary life. It is the “other” six days a week. It is our relationships to other people. The worship and fellowship of church are necessary support to get us through the week if we are to live out our Christian commitments. When a Christian is not a regular worshiping relationship with fellow Christians, he quickly becomes out of touch with the underlying realities of the Christian life. He begins to go off at a tangent to the rest of the body, much as a football player who missed the signals in the huddle might run at the wrong time or in the wrong direction, losing not only his own effectiveness, but bringing reproach and penalty on the team. Church is the place where Christians gather their strength and concentrate their efforts for living. We just can’t do it all ourselves; we have to be part to the team.
That’s what the Christian fellowship is all about. When the Apostle’s Creed states, “I believe in the communion of saints,” that’s what it means. We help each other live out our faith in our daily living. As Christians, we receive support and inspiration from other Christians, even those who are no longer with us. They inspire us, and encourage us, they hold us accountable to our highest ideals, and they help us up when we stumble.
Our finest example and finest supporter is Jesus Christ, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Is the Christian life sometimes too hard for you? Do you want to sit occasionally by the side of the road and let the racers go by? Would it be a whole lot easier to sit and watch TV than to do the things God is calling you to do? Then, “consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Our Lord never took the easy way out. “Let us not become weary, but run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”
Prayer: God of grace, help us to accept the grace from others who support us in our Christian walk and to share your grace with those who falter, that we may follow our Lord’s example of bearing the cross for the sake of others. In His precious name, we pray. Amen.
Dr. Bill Mankin
Missions & Ministry Coach of Wyoming Cluster