Believer, you are not meant to go it alone. Following Christ and walking in the Spirit is meant to be done with other believers. New Christians especially need to become a member of a faith community. We have a duty to those people who we have led to Jesus to disciple them. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our fellow believers to be together in a community to teach one another, edify one another, and over all love one another.
When Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, he was torn up about not being able to go to them and disciple them. He understood the need for teaching, guidance, and mentoring of believer to believer. Paul knew it was important to send someone to the churches he had planted. And though he couldn’t go himself, he sent Timothy.
Why do we need fellowship of believers? There are a few reasons. The first is we suffer. Verses 1-4 read,
“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.”
When we suffer, whether physical illness, oppression, spiritual battle or anything else, fellowship with other Spirit-filled people comforts us and lets us see the bigger picture. Our suffering doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) bring others down and cause them to suffer as well. Camaraderie lightens our burden helps us get through it, and teaches us and our church.
When you are going it alone and you suffer, there is no one there to give you the wisdom of The Holy Spirit when you can’t hear him through your pain. There is no one to share the load with you. A new believer can become so discouraged that he doesn’t let the Word of God take root in his heart. He can choose to reject Jesus because he doesn’t understand that we all suffer or why he was being attacked. The person led to Christ yesterday but not given a church body is left an orphan who has a slim chance of maturing to the image of Christ. Verse 5 reads,
“For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.”
The church at Thessalonica needed mentoring and so do every one of us. Paul needed Christian partners and so do we. Paul sent Timothy to the Thessalonians to ensure they were maturing, and probably to set up a system of leadership in the church and ensure they would continue to grow in Christ. When Timothy returned to Paul, he had good news. Verses 6-8 read,
“But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.”
We need each other to teach one another, to get to know God more and more. Verses 9-10 read,
“For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”
Proverbs 27:17 says it this way,
“Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.”
We need each other because our corporate prayer, worship, and studying blesses The Lord and blesses us. We can see what Jesus is doing in our lives and the lives of one another. Our thanksgiving, worship, praise and prayers increase exponentially. As our love for God increases so does our love for each other. It all multiplies by leaps and bounds when we are in it together. Verses 11-13 read,
“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
We are waiting for Jesus to return, we are waiting for New Jerusalem, but we have eternal life now. One day we will be perfected, but now we walk in increasing glory of Jesus. We do that together, not alone. The Holy Spirit is in us, making us a union that cannot be easily broken. When we are together He is that much more among us.
When a person is walking alone there is no one to comfort, encourage, edify or work with. If he has a question he can ask God but will He recognize the answer? Or will the father of lies answer first and lead the person further away from Jesus. Who will keep him accountable?