“The Christian life is personal, but it’s not private.”
I sat in my pastor’s office, trying to work through the scope of some of Paul’s letters in the New Testament a couple of years ago, and this was his exhortation to me. He was speaking to me as a fellow leader, but as my brother in Christ and as my pastor even more.
If your relationship with Christ is not personal—if you aren’t in unique communication with Him on a personal level of belief and worship—you are missing a critical part of the Gospel.
Likewise, if your relationship with Christ is not made evident in your life—if it is not a part of your daily coming and going and relationship with others—you are missing a critical piece of the Gospel.
This idea felt abstract at the time, but the more I thought about it over the days and months and years that followed, the more I have come to understand it isn’t simply an isolated idea, but a unifying relationship between God’s provisions of His Word and His Body, the Church.
God’s Word makes the Christian life personal. Because it is living and active, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, God’s Word comes to each of us in unique ways at different times. It is always true and that truth never changes, but the Bible is an extremely personal book. As the only written revelation of God to His people, it is a lavish gift of story, love, instruction and promise.
God’s Church makes the Christian life public. My pastor also commented that the Church is a completely perfect institution… until you add people to it. And it’s true—adding sinners to any equation makes things messy (sometimes very messy!), but Jesus never, ever promised tidy. And messy should never be a reason to give up on God’s gift. We’re called to live life with one another, reminding each other of what we already profess (because we are so good at forgetting, aren’t we?). We’re supposed to gather often, rejoice and mourn together, forgive each other and work alongside each other. God’s Word tells us to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), restore each other from our transgressions (Galatians 6:1), and hold fast together to the confession of our faith (Hebrews 10:23).
None of this is tidy, all of it is messy.
None of this is private, all of it is public within the body.
Friends, the Christian life is personal, but it is not private. God provided us with His holy Word and His Church. Let’s hold tight to these lavish gifts and trust the Lord to provide us with all we need to live messy and purposeful lives for His glory.