February 22, 2010

No room for spiritual Lone Rangers

My church, Good Shepherd, is currently in the middle of a series called "WE" which is all about community and its central role in the Christian life. So when I came across the following quote on this subject while prepping for my upcoming weekend seminar on the Book of Revelation (which I'll be teaching March 19-21 at Americus First UMC in GA), I thought it was one of the best statements on the subject I've ever come across:

The gospel is never for individuals but always for a people. Sin fragments us, separates us, and sentences us to solitary confinement. Gospel restores us, unites us, and sets us in community. The life of faith revealed and nurtured in the biblical narratives is highly personal but never merely individual: always there is a family, a tribe, a nation – church.… A believing community is the context for the life of faith…. Love cannot exist in isolation: away from others, love bloats into pride. Grace cannot be received privately: cut off from others it is perverted into greed. Hope cannot develop in solitude: separated from the community, it goes to seed in the form of fantasies.

--Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination, pp.42-43

I found the quote in Ben Witherington's excellent commentary on Revelation (a work which I highly recommend!).

Walking together...

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