Life Together (February 2015)
As I write this, I am sitting in the lounge car on a Via train bound for Toronto. It has been a long time since we have travelled this way, so my wife and I have been looking forward to this opportunity. However, passenger trains do have reputation for being late, and this one is turning out to be beyond anything we could’ve imagined. We were four and a half hours late in leaving Winnipeg and our current estimated time of arrival in Toronto is twelve hours late! While this is certainly out of the ordinary, I have always understood that travelling by train is all about the journey, not the destination. If you have never taken the train, give yourself some extra time and climb on board – I highly recommend it, and the food is excellent!
One of the things I find so interesting about train travel is to observe the development of community. You are all “trapped” in this long tube for a significant length of time, living quarters are somewhat tight, and so interaction with your neighbor is natural and necessary. People seem to quickly develop friendships – and it is probably because of the situation we are all experiencing. We find ourselves on the same journey to the same destination. That common or shared experience tends to draw people together.
It can be much the same for the church, or at least should be. The church at its best is a community of people – a community of faith that is draw together by a common experience. We, too, find ourselves on the same journey to the same destination. One of the most precious things about the Christian life is this “life together” (in spite of it’s sometimes messiness), and it provides a stark contrast to the individualism of our culture. We are to be a community of people who love and serve God and each other.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” The Christian life was never intended by God to be lived in isolation, but to be lived out in the context and support of a faith community. Sadly, it seems for many Christians today, involvement in the life of the church community has merely become an option. It is to their loss, because God knows our need for community, our need to belong and be strengthened by those who walk the same road. Like the people on the train, we need community – and especially so for those who walk the path of faith. Let’s not give up on this “life together.”