The title of this blog is “Even if I Walk Alone”. That is a statement that simply means that I have chosen to follow Christ, I have chosen to love as He did, even if no one else will join me in doing so. Ideally I will not walk this path alone; I don’t want to walk this path alone. Being prepared to walk alone should in no way be taken to mean that this is the best way to go about following Christ. A few can accomplish more than one, and the many can accomplish exponentially more than the few. Perhaps the title of this blog really should be “Even If I Walk Alone (…but I’d rather walk together!)”.
Following Jesus is a group exercise, as demonstrated by Jesus calling His twelve disciples (Matthew 10:1-16), sending out the seventy apostles (Luke 10:1-12) and establishing His desire for followers to come together(Matthew 18:19-20). There are times that God has worked through an individual, but by and large God has always worked through groups of people. In our modern society it has become very easy to be self-sufficient. Jesus never calls us to self-sufficiency; He calls us to utter reliance. We are to rely on God in all things, and this includes relying on our brothers and sisters as we all seek to follow Him. Would you rather be self-sufficient or live a life of total reliance on someone else? As someone who grew up fiercely independent, this is a hard question for me, even though I know the right answer. I want, no I need, to rely on God with all that I am. Yet so often I opt for the prideful stance of self-reliance. I take pride in my ability to handle whatever may come my way. Slowly, quietly, my confidence is being swapped out from that of myself, to knowing I can handle anything this world throws at me because of the strength of Jesus within me. It is an agonizing but wonderful process.
Another problem we face is that we tend to not keep the same community for very long. A generation ago, people generally grew up and lived out their lives in the same area. Grade school friendships persisted into the twilight of life; you knew most everyone you came into contact with and strangers were easy to spot. In our current era, we are far less likely to stay in the same city we were born in, much less the same neighborhood. College, job advancements and a quest for a better place to raise a family all contribute to a nation of virtual strangers. Even small groups in churches tend to change faces every few years. We just don’t plant ourselves anywhere anymore. Perhaps we need to give more thought to our sense of community before we move on to the next big thing. Is it possible that we can serve God better by staying put rather than taking off to chase “the American dream”, leaving behind the relationships we have established? I’m not proposing that we should all stay where we grew up, but I am saying we are quick to leave a community for generally selfish reasons without ever giving much thought to the community of believers and would-be believers that we leave behind. It should definitely play a part in our decision process.
This brings me to the community where you are now. Are you nurturing your community? Are you seeking out others with whom to build relationships? Do you even know your neighbors? Are you demonstrating love to those with whom you work or are they “just the people at the office”? We are to live in community and we are to love in community. Our free time needs to be turned into community time. If we are passionate about living a life modeled after Christ, then we must be about living in community. It’s time to put selfishness and self-sufficiency aside. We must be willing to walk this road alone, but ever seeking to walk with one another.