Sharing in Glory and in Guilt

The Christian lifestyle was never meant to be lived on an island or in a bubble. We are reliant on one another. We are a part of a community that needs one another, that is supposed to encourage one another, uplift one another and rebuke one another. The Christian life is one that is supposed to be lived in community. And there is, in some sense, a communal aspect to much of Christian living. It’s part of the beauty of being a Christian and, and having brothers and sisters to lean on. Brothers and sisters who care about you, who care about the Lord enough to encourage you and admonish you who do the things that the people of God do for one another. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

There is, as I say, a communal aspect sometimes even to the sinfulness of Christians and sometimes God looks at us as a corporate body and passes judgment on a nation, a community, a tribe, a clan, a family and begins to think of them as a whole. Here’s an illustration of this in the book of Joshua. I was struck by reading chapter 6 where all of the people of God go marching around the city of Jericho and on the seventh time through they march around, they give a great shout and the Lord causes the walls to fall down and they all run in.God gives them a great victory.
In chapter seven, right at the beginning, the Israelites get their tails kicked. And if you are paying close attention, you might see some sort of insinuation that they got their tails kicked because they were haughty. They were full of themselves and they felt like they really didn’t need to send that many guys up. They basically said, “Hey, it’s a pretty small community. I think we can do this without the whole community.” And those guys go up and they return, those that did return, returned with their tails between their legs.

But it specifically says that the reason the Lord removed his hand of blessing from the people of Israel was because Achan had taken some of the devoted things, some of the gold and the jewels and the precious things from the city of Jericho as plunder and spoil, and instead of bringing it as tribute to God and giving it to the community, he hid some of it. And God saw what Achan had done and his anger was rightly kindled against Achan and the entire community of the Israelites suffered for the choice of Achan and his people. That is an example of how sometimes God will allow a community of people to suffer because of the choices that some of them make as representatives of that community.

So we need to be looking out for one another. We need to be admonishing one another. We need to be rebuking one another. Somebody probably knew what Achan had done and kept their mouth shut. How does God feel, as we learned in our last installment, about those who keep their mouths shut when there is unrighteousness around them? Well, he holds them partly responsible for the unrighteousness that’s taking place because they refuse to intervene and stop it.

This is a passage from the book of James. It says, “You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have been condemned.” So God is talking to a group of people, and He is indicating that this group of people are responsible for something that happened in history, even if they didn’t have a direct part of it. And those who are wantonly selfish and those who do things for their own gain will be held responsible and often will be held responsible in community.

Our topic today is that God warns even the visible community of Christians against the shedding of innocent blood and the allowing of the shedding of innocent blood in our midst. Brothers and sisters, we need one another. We rely on one another. This is how God designed us to be and to function and to relate. Just like God in the Holy Trinity relates one person to the next, so we look forward to these days when we get encouragement from you in the mail. We need you.

We thank you for your prayers and your support. And for the fact that as a body of Christ, God shares all these glories with us mysteriously, and not us as PassionLife staff anymore than he shares these glories with you who make the sacrifices of finance and prayer and encouragement for those of us who are actually out on the field. So we thank you for operating a community with PassionLife. We really are a fellowship.