Be shepherds of God’s flock. 1 Peter 5:2 (NIV)
Imagine meeting a man one day at the health club and, as you speak, it becomes clear that he is a believer. After some small talk, you ask him where he worships.
“Oh,” he says, “I’ve lost interest in organized religion,” and then he expresses various disappointments that he has experienced at the hands of church people and church leaders. The heart of what he says to you is very simple: The church isn’t what it ought to be.
This man has opted out of the church. He has become a “lone ranger” believer with a personal faith. And he is not alone. Many people are leaving the church today because they’ve been hurt by the church and they feel that they would be better off without it.
But what the apostle Peter says about the church and her destiny opens up a dimension of the Christian life that many in our highly individualistic society struggle to understand. When you come to Christ, you not only begin a new life, you also become part of a new community.
You can adopt Buddhism or Hinduism in private. These are paths that you can walk alone. But you cannot follow Christ alone. Each of us must come to the cross individually, but when we come to the cross, we meet together. At the cross, God forms a community of people who are born again and called to a different life.
Have you met any “lone ranger” believers? Are you one? Or have you considered becoming one? Why?