This past Tuesday, Joel delivered a powerful message regarding the importance of believers having meaningful relationships with other Christians. Although the word he gave was full of important advice and ideas, one of the most significant things that he stated was that Christianity makes believers one in Christ. This theme is discussed in numerous key passages throughout the Bible, but it is particularly evident in the scriptures Joel grounded his sermon in: I Peter 2:1-10. In verse 5, Peter states that the body of believers are “lively stones” being built up as a “spiritual house.” In discussing the significance of this verse, Joel noted that the body of Christian believers are ultimately a community. Although broadly defined, the phrase “community” generally references a social group who reside in a specific region, play a role in a government, and have a common historical and cultural heritage. Each of these distinguishing factors of a community point toward one key reality: unity. Despite the fact that the term “community” references unity amongst individuals, however, it seems that many Christians find themselves continually isolated from one another. In discussion factors that can lead to this isolation, Joel noted that many believers feel more comfortable associating with their unbelieving friends because it gives them an opportunity to engage in sinful behavior without experiencing the sense of conviction that would result from performing an inappropriate act in front of other believers. Thus oftentimes our desire to be sinful without feeling guilty can be the motivation for failing to form meaningful relationships with other believers.
In addition to discussing why many believers isolate themselves from other Christians and thereby fail to form the type of godly relationships that God would have us to, Joel explained why actually forming these friendships is good and important. In talking about the matter, he discussed the fact that “iron sharpens iron,” an old adage that-in the context of Joel’s argument-references how believers can make one another more intellectually and spiritually astute through continual interaction. Joel also pointed out that being around other believers exposes our dark side. Having this dark side exposed is important because the process of repentance and spiritual growth often begins when we recognize that our attitudes and behaviors do not parallel the personhood and principles realized by Christ. In discussing this matter, Joel unveiled the fact that developing a meaningful community of believers who love and correct one another is an important and godly endeavor. In creating this type of godly community, we can all realize the paradigms Peter outlines in I Peter 2:5 when he calls believers “lively stones” caught up in the process of becoming a “spiritual house.”