By Doug Munton
Those involved in sports can readily see how much they need other people.
In individual sports, a support system of coaches, trainers, moms, and dads is needed. This is all the more true for those involved in team sports. No pass can get completed without a receiver and none of it works at all without the anonymous big guys on the offensive line.
Some see Christianity as just something they do alone. No church, no small groups, and no accountability. But the truth is, faith is something individuals practice in connection with lots of other believers.
Here are a few reasons why Christians need each other.
Other believers have different gifts and talents and roles.
No Christian has it all. Well, we do have all of Jesus and all of His love and all of His forgiveness. But we don’t have all of the spiritual gifts He gives. We don’t all have the same talents. Our roles in life and within the church are even different. The Bible uses the analogy of the body to describe us. No thumb is effective when severed from the physical body and no individual Christian fares better when severed from the spiritual body.
Other believers have perspectives that differ from ours.
The viewpoint of others can help us see the world in a broader way than our tunnel vision might otherwise allow. People who have different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences can help us see what we might otherwise miss. My own life is richer by knowing other believers who are new to faith or who come from a different culture or who have dealt with issues I have yet to face. I need people like these who help me see a broader view of life.
Other believers may see what we miss in ourselves.
We often see ourselves as we wish we were more than as we really are. Others can help us see what we miss. My wife is more compassionate than I. She can gently remind me that there are times when someone needs my compassionate ear more than they need my explaining mouth. God frequently uses others to teach us about ourselves. They sometimes know the truth about us that we hide, ignore, or just miss. A true friend can help you become a better you.
Other believers teach us by their successes, mistakes and failures.
One of the best ways to learn is to observe others. We don’t have to stub our own toes to know that it hurts. That lesson is best learned from another. Knowing, loving, and connecting with others allows us to learn what they have already learned. We can repeat what has benefited them, avoid the mistakes they’ve made, and assimilate truths failure has already served to teach them. Others become walking “professors of life lessons” –without the ten page essays.
Other believers help us in times of need – and we can reciprocate.
One of the benefits of team sport Christianity is the hand reaching down to pick you up when life has knocked you down. And life is filled with figurative linebackers yearning to pick up unnecessary roughing penalties. People can help us. But and just as importantly, we can help people. God saved us to serve, to love, and to care. This is fulfilling though sometimes messy. Helping each other is one of the great joys of relationships.
So, get involved. You need some teammates, coaches, and cheerleaders. And, they need you. You might find that this team sport faith is more fulfilling than you ever imagined.
Doug Munton, online at dougmunton.com, is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon, Ill., and a former first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention.