I have resisted this for a long time.
My faith was mine. I had cultivated a well-oiled spirituality machine; albeit, an almost entirely unidirectional one. Me, my Bible, and a substantial amount of time alone. This is a significantly harmful error in both theology and practice.
The fullness of the gospel is the family of God. In fact, the mutual love between the children in the family of God is the Apostle John’s main apologetic for assuring believers of their genuine salvation.
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.” 1 John 3:14
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 Jn 3:17
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 Jn 4:7
Recently, I have come to absolutely love this about the gospel. The gospel does not create unidirectional spirituality machines called Christians. It creates family. It opens up the family of God for outsider participation.
I have a group of brothers whom I meet with on a regular basis for beer and fellowship. I love these men, which was a radically new phenomenon for me. There is a quality to them which beckons brotherhood. We love the Trinity. We are honest with each other. We give firm hugs. Our wives appreciate the influence on each other. We know that we can ask for money from each other. We encourage one another. There are no holiness rivalries. And we’re not always in some strange ‘ministry’ mode.
But the kicker is that we are participating in the familia Dei. There is a dynamic among us which stirs our affections for Jesus, creates intimacy, and shows a mutual love and respect. Of course, I am not telling the whole truth; but this part of it is truly awesome.
It is forgery to go to church without such a dynamic. May our churches be more family-like; or prepare its funeral.