As many young Christians are coming into a new college environment, it is important that they strive to find community as they grow into their independence as young adults. According to Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he clarifies that a Christian can not go on with life alone. He states this because he argues that Christians need the constant reassurance of admonition, exhortation, and confession to grow spiritually and humbly as they pursue the path of Christ. Importantly, Christians need to be with like-minded believers as they spiritually mature through the process of life. As young Christians aspire to be “the salt of the world” they need to build relationships based from the foundations of Christian living and biblical commandments.
1. Long-lasting Relationships
For a Christian, it is important to have growing relationships with God and other believers. The relationship between a believer and God is crucial in their walk when living the Christian lifestyle. That said, a Christian needs to fulfill and sustain themselves with the Word of God through a community that can benefit their walk with Jesus Christ. By having a Christ-centered community or fellowship, their lives are enriched by sharing the Gospel to others through an intentional and meaningful relationship. For instance, sharing moments of life with another Christian will help them pursue God as they are living the Christian life together in pursuit of becoming more like Christ. These relationships help to encourage and build each other’s lives of what it means to live life meaningfully and faithfully.
Hebrews 6:10 states, “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
2. Accountability is a Necessity
When a believer encounters or engages in sin it is vital that they come forward with an accountability partner. As a fellowship continues to grow as brothers and sisters in Christ, they begin to trust each other with who they want to vent to about their struggles regarding sin. Bonhoeffer states
“Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin” (Life Together, 1954).
It is humbling to share that aspect of Christian living with another believer because of the humbling effect it has to trust and encourage each other pertaining to the struggles of sin. In this way, the fellowship is best served when others recognize their mistakes and are not timid to admit their sinfulness.
3. Community is Formed Through Jesus’ Love
In the bible it states that the two greatest commandments are “loving God with all your heart and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 36-40). By following these two important commandments, Christians will be able to apply the rest of God’s law into their Christian lifestyle. As for a fellowship, being able to come into a community with a love for God and the love and respect for others, builds the foundation of connecting and growing spiritually with other believers.
4. Prayer Through Intercession Helps Christians Grow Together
Praying for one another has to be one of the greatest necessities for fellowship to enhance God’s relationship. Bonhoeffer states that “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses” (Life Together, 1954). Fervently through the Word of God, will help believers grow in their faith, strength, sanctification, and preservation from sin as they carry on with their daily lives. As with intercession, it is an exuberant discovery being able to pray for a brother or sister in-Christ without any personal tension. The simple act humbly brings a brother into the presence of God.
5. Believers Minister to Each Other by Listening and Bearing Each Other’s Burdens
As a fellowship, being able to listen attentively to a brother ministers more than excessive speaking. That said, a brother who listens attentively grows their relationship by listening with the ears of God to speak truth through love and encouragement. By listening to each other, brothers and sisters in-Christ are able to carry each other’s burdens through the hardships in life. It is a process where Christians pick themselves up through affirmation that they are loved and forgiven.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer gives an excellent overview on why Christians need each other for continuous love and support. Christians are not able to live this life alone; as a community they need the constant and mutual relationships of fellowship to further their servant hood as they live life on Earth.
Bonhoeffer, D. (1954). Life together. London: SCM Press