We Christians, at least here in the U. S., have an autonomy problem. We want to figure everything out on our own and we think we know better than anyone else. It seems suspiciously familiar to the root of sin found in the opening verses of Genesis 3.
It shows in the way we think about our relationship with Christ and his church. We think of the two as completely separate from one another, but this is not what the Bible presents. The Bible tells us that believers are baptized into the church and that the church is God’s ordained instrument for both evangelism and discipleship of the world. We need the church because we cannot do it on our own – nor were we meant to. And if we cannot do it on our own, we need to be humble enough to admit we do not have all of the answers ourselves and allow others to help us.
But this brings up another interesting issue: how we think of the church. Many of us are willing to admit, or at least acknowledge, that we need to be a part of a local church. We see the value in that. But what about the church worldwide? Do we see a need to think of ourselves as connected to a body that is larger than our local church? Can we learn from other brothers and sisters in Christ who live down the road or across the globe in completely different cultures than our own? I think we too often neglect how the larger body of Christ can help us.
Speaking of looking to believers around the world, what about believers across time? Do we think that those believers who walked before us and faced the challenges of their day have anything to teach us? Or have we got it all figured out on our own? How much value do we place in knowing the events and history of believers who came before us?
Christianity was never intended to be lived autonomously. We are called to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; something that transcends culture and time: Christ’s body, the church.