Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians.” A life with Christ is not meant to be lived alone, rather together with a community of Christ followers. This requires intentionality and vulnerability. Togetherness encourages focusing our eyes on what matters most—Jesus. Bonhoeffer continues, “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this”
Here four actions to focus our minds and encourage togetherness.
Set your hope on future grace
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 1:13, ESV
The mind is a battle ground. While there are many pressures from outside, it is in the mind that one is most often tempted to fear, lose hope, or skirt holiness. Alone we are prone to distraction and disillusionment from the grace that is ours in Jesus Christ. If your hope is in anything, but Jesus you will be disappointed. It is a gift of God’s grace that we are together in this fight of faith and that we will be together around the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” – 1 Peter 1:14-16, ESV
Above any other attribute of God, his holiness is mentioned the most in the Bible. God is holy, meaning he is “set apart” and there is none like him. If God is holy he wants his children to be holy too. God is not a militant nor a mongrel demanding perfection, but he is a loving father who wants his children to pursue holiness everyday. Encourage one another to be holy in an unholy world.
Have a healthy fear of God
“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,” – 1 Peter 1:17, ESV
Peter tells us that God is a Father and we should have a healthy fear of him because he judges his children fairly. While we aren’t perfect kids, he is a perfect daddy. Sometimes we are tempted to view God through the lens of what our earthly father was or is like. While this can be helpful, not everyone had a father who was loving, caring, or taught them right and wrong. God is a good Father.
Look to Christ our example
“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” – 1 Peter 1:18-21, ESV
Christ came to earth. He lived a holy life and obeyed his Father in everything. He even obeyed God by going to the cross becoming the sacrificial lamb for our sins. Through Jesus we can have faith and hope because in Jesus we see what God looks like with skin on. Jesus also helps us to see what holiness looks like as a human. Follow in his steps.
Life together is primarily about keeping our minds on Jesus Christ until Jesus Christ comes again and makes us completely like him. Walking in grace, holiness, and a fear of God is impossible alone, but together it is a lot more encouraging and doable.
Questions for Reflection:
- What does holiness mean? What does it look like to be holy? What is the opposite of holiness?
- How does the illustration and reality that God is Father and you are his children encourage you? Why do God and parents ask their children to do good things not evil things?
- What does it mean to obey? Are there any rules or standards from the Bible or your home that you don’t think are fair or right? Why? What rules or standards are difficult for you to obey? Why?
- How is God a Judge? Why is it good that God judges?
- How does the world make fun of Christians for being holy or different? How does knowing that at the end of our life God will reward us for holy life?
- What is the meaning of the word redeem? How did Jesus redeem mankind?
- How do thinking on these verses help guard your mind from temptation?