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We Cannot Pursue Godliness Without Community

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John Stott tells of a Scottish minister who visited a church member who had drifted away from the community of the church. Upon entering the home, the minister sat down with the man in his den before the fireplace. Neither said a word.

Finally, the minister leaned forward, picked up the fireplace tongs, and took a burning coal from the fire. He laid the coal off to the side and, in just a few moments, what was once a bright, burning coal turned to cold, gray ash and eventually went out altogether.

Then the minister picked it back up and put it with the other coals. Within a few seconds, it was on fire again. Then the minister got up and left the man. Neither said a word through the entire visit, but the point was made.

The next weekend, the man returned to his family of faith.

So how do you experience the rewards of the new community?

By joining one!

You cannot develop yourself spiritually to the degree God intends apart from others. This is why finding a community—and committing to it—is one of the most important spiritual steps you can take. Apart from life in community with other believers, you can’t practice the “one anothers” that lie at the heart of not only community, but spiritual growth.

Here’s a sampling of those directives:

Be devoted to one another. (Romans 12:10)

Live in harmony with one another. (Romans 12:16)

Be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)

Spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

Accept one another. (Romans 15:7)

Stop passing judgment on one another. (Romans 14:13)

Be kind and compassionate to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Therefore encourage one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. (Colossians 3:13)

Offer hospitality to one another. (1 Peter 4:9)

And then, over and over again in Scripture you find this phrase, first uttered by Jesus himself:

Love one another. (John 13:34)

Which of these can be experienced, much less pursued, outside of community?

Not a single one.