|Volume 18 Number 7 July 2016||
John Donne, a famous poet, once wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself…” One of the major tragedies of modern society is that many people have forgotten this simple need of humanity, the need to have a circle of friends and family upon whom we can depend. This desire that people have to be “lone wolves” has even infiltrated Christianity. Many Christians today have forgotten that we are to be a “family in Christ,” connected to each other, helping and supporting each other in our Christian lives. They seem to have taken on the “Lone Ranger” mentality, not surrounding themselves with their brothers and sisters in Christ, and instead surrounding themselves with the evil influence of the world. This is a dangerous risk to take spiritually, for in the Bible there is no such thing as “The Lone Christian,” and for good reason.
The church is the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 1:22-23), and we are supposed to look upon each other as members working together for the good of the whole body (Romans 12:3-10; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Yet, many today have forgotten this essential and significant element of being a Christian, and they cut themselves off from their base of Christian support. Many don’t attend worship services and congregational functions like they should. Even many of those who do attend somewhat regularly have no contact with Christians other than during those services. This leaves us open to the temptations and to the attacks of the devil! Peter described the devil as a lion who is stalking us, trying to kill us spiritually (1 Peter 5:8). This is a very apt analogy, especially since lions always try to pick off the prey that is weak or alone. If we as Christians are separating ourselves out from the body, walking alone in life, then we are far more likely to be taken down and devoured by Satan and his temptations!
So, instead of trying to be “The Lone Christian,” we must do our best to be connected to other Christians, both in attending church services and functions as well as in our everyday lives. In fact, one of the reasons that we are commanded not to forsake the assemblies of the church is for the very reason that we receive encouragement from each other (Hebrews 10:24-25). Let us remember that a congregation is not just a group of people, but it is a family, and specifically it is the family of God, even as Jesus and Paul taught (Mark 3:31-35; Ephesians 2:19). We must each do our parts in this family if the body is going to work the way it is supposed to work (Ephesians 4:16).
Therefore, let us do the things that are required for the right function of the body of Christ. Let us think of each other before we think of ourselves, and remember that we have been saved in order to serve our Lord and each other. This was the attitude that Jesus had, and it is the one we need, especially in maintaining the unity of the church and in walking worthy of our calling to be Christians (Philippians 2:2-5; Ephesians 4:1-3). Let us no more be “lone” anything, but let us be the family of God, brothers and sisters to each other in love!
The Greatest Temptation
When we are faced with hardships, trials or unexpected misfortunes, it is easy to lose sight of the Lord in the midst of the storm clouds that plague us. In situations of distress, it is tempting to take the easy way out and give in to the pressures of the world. When confronted with our stresses, temptations and problems, it is hard to imagine anything worse than what we are going through. Sometimes, instead of resisting temptation and choosing the right path, we justify ourselves and choose the wrong path. Each temptation we face becomes the greatest temptation imaginable because in that moment it is the only one, the biggest one we can see.
Paul encouraged the church at Philippi, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8). One of the greatest temptations Jesus faced was being God.
The Book of Matthew records Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. First, Satan told Jesus, who had been fasting for forty days, to turn stones to bread so that He could eat (4:3). Next, he suggested Jesus preform an undeniable miracle before the worshipers in the Temple to prove Himself to be the Messiah (4:5-6). Finally, he offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world that were at the time in his possession (4:8-9; cf. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
In each of these instances, our Lord’s physical hunger (lust of flesh) and His desire to be acknowledged as the Messiah (lust of the eyes, cf. John 8:24, the pride of life, cf. Matthew 26:39-44), the temptation was infinitely multiplied because He was God. Not only did Jesus as man feel the hunger, the desire for glory and wish to have the cup of wrath pass from him, He also had the power to do it! We are given several opportunities in life and more power than we realize to interact in the lives of others. When we are tempted to use this to our own betterment without thought to the consequences or to the effect it would have on others, we forget the mind of Christ. Our greatest temptation can become our greatest triumphs if we seek Him; we can escape it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Don’t be afraid to let go of yourself to embrace others. Don’t let your pride get in the way of doing what is right. We are servants. We serve the lowliest of people even if that service results in our deaths. We do this because of the Servant who let go of glory to embrace us and who gave up His own life to claim ours. He is risen!