If being a Christian means following Jesus, then following Jesus means being in relationship with his followers. One of the great things about God is that he does not let us struggle alone on this earth. One of the ways we know God is through his Church, the incarnation of Christ. Time in and time out, I have proven myself to fall and fall hard. When I am down, stuck, lost, God always seems to bring forth a new word, a fresh gesture, a tender ear to help pull me out.
Christians are still human beings. This means they have the potential to be a blessing to many, or, like I have been many times in my life, a thorn in someone’s side. We have the capacity to hurt and the capacity to heal others because God is working through us. In my late-teen, early twenties, I went through what I see so much in my circles now —a disgust for Christians. But a few years ago, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer startled my thoughts and feelings toward them, “I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed through intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died.” It seems to me that God has placed eternal worth for me, through Jesus, on the Cross. Who am I to dismiss the work of the Cross by degrading someone who is a brother in Christ?
The power of one Christian to another is in part the sanctifying work of God. A community of believers calls for covenants between them, confession, sharing of food and possessions, celebration for who they are and what they achieve, and lots of prayer. All of which God is using to restore us and restore those around us. God’s promise to us is that he will be present when we are in community with one another. There is something transformational about a group of people, who are bonded by the same life force, the same vision, and the same purpose. It allows us to have strength in numbers to step forward, it heals us both in our faults, on top of being wounded for being right, which is almost always true of prophets. This community, this bond, this connection, can show ourselves and the world who God is. It can be answered by this simple question; how much love do we have for each other?
The beauty of friendship with other Christians is one of the parts of following God. Relationships will transform us more than any idea on this earth.