I am a strong individualist … but it is a mere matter of common sense to recognize that the State, the community, the citizens acting together, can do a number of things better than if they were left to individual action. — Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena
The life story of Libby’s grandfather intrigues me. As a young man, he was a successful preacher, but he entered college during a time in history when the authenticity and authority of Scripture were being debated. He had a few liberal professors, and in the course of class conversations, he began to question his own view of Scripture. In the process, he left his faith, declared agnosticism, and spent the rest of his days alone, in his study, reading thick theological books about something he no longer believed. His heart hardened, and his doubt isolated him.
I wish I could have been around during this time. It would have been a privilege to encourage him.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)
When we’re struggling, it’s tempting to withdraw and try to figure it out solo. But we need the context of Christian community. We need a place to share struggles, ask for help, be prayed for, and hear truth. Encouragement comes from community.
If I’d been able to have a conversation with Libby’s grandfather before he passed away, I might have said something like, “Hey. I heard you used to claim Jesus, but you’ve been struggling over the years as you’ve had some questions. Can I help you through those questions? Can we talk about this?”
Are conversations like this awkward? Yes, but they are also loving. I don’t have to worry about judging the spiritual condition of someone’s heart—Jesus takes care of that. But I can ask permission to enter his doubts and examine Scripture together. I can talk to people I love about a God who loves them.
Jesus, not only are we created for community but we are created to be community for others. Speak Your encouragement through me into the lives of others. Remind me that every day is someone’s “Today.” Rid me of the fear of awkwardness that would keep me silent when a friend needs me to engage in his struggle. Amen.