Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—The Importance of the Community of Believers
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
If you support the common view of “it’s okay to be alone, you do not need anyone else to validate you,” ask a school-age child or teenager how it feels to be excluded from their peers.
The Apostle Paul strongly supports the bonding of believers and not forsaking the assembling of ourselves.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, immediately, we are spiritually separated from unbelievers. Our thoughts and goals are no longer self-centered, they are God-centered. Through prayer, we begin to diligently seek God and study the Scriptures. The anointing of the Holy Spirit transforms us into loyal, committed, faithful, and obedient disciples of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the Bible, the Israelites were instructed to, “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you…” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Unless we are witnessing, the situation of mixed company—you the believer socializing with unbelievers results in your compromise of godly righteousness.
Becoming like Christ can cause dissension, even on minor issues with our family and friends. Many Christians have been accused of thinking that we are better than others. Yes, our mindset will change—we will not agree with or live by worldviews. From a spiritual perspective, God’s expectation is that we possess the character of Christ. The Fruit of the Spirit is evidence that Divine power is transforming us. In our daily struggle, we realize that it also requires human effort to achieve spiritual growth and development and to be in alignment with God’s standards— “Be Holy, for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
God’s original plan was for us to have a strong bond with other believers. To worship together in the church, pray for and with others and socialize in fun activities creates a nurturing family of God who readily provides love, strength, and support during good times and in hardships.
Does the Christian life include separation and solitude? Yes! “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
There may come a time in which God will separate you from the body of believers to fulfill His plans for your life.
If God has placed you in a season of solitude, do not become discouraged. This is your time of preparation. The Holy Spirit will reveal your purpose–your spiritual gift, and the method by which you will witness to others. God eliminates the distractions and busyness to increase your time with Him and bring His plans to fruition. Hearing God’s still, small voice requires quiet meditation in your secret closet [Matthew 6:6]. At the right time, the Holy Spirit will guide you to a body of believers.
Self-induced Separation: Have you left the church, vowing never to return? Church hurt is often used as a reason to forsake attending church. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44). Pray for and forgive the people who have hurt you. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal another church with a loving family of believers. Yet, there are no perfect people or churches.
Remember, that everyone is a work in progress [including yourself]. Always possess a loving heart. Sanctification takes a lifetime. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…” (Ephesians 2:8). As we receive grace, we must also extend grace to others.
Prayer: God, we pray for the body of believers that we may love and readily forgive each other. Help us to fulfill our responsibility of providing comfort and assistance to those who are struggling spiritually, financially, and emotionally in the family of God. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.