Adam, a good friend of mine, has recently introduced me to the rich heritage that is soccer in the English Premiership. He, being a Liverpool fan, has also coerced me into becoming a devoted follower of the Reds. One of the outer-lying reasons why I chose to pledge allegiance to the team was their mission statement which simply reads: You'll Never Walk Alone.
I've thought about this statement quite a bit lately. We've begun an intense three-week study with Jr. High students looking around the theme of spiritual warfare. There are a few significant passages of scripture that illustrate the reality of this battle, but none more significant to me currently than that of 1 Peter 5:8 which says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
If you've ever had the privilege of watching the Discovery Channel, you may have seen a lion on the prowl before. There is something awe-inspiring as you watch the lion tracking its' prey. The animals that seem to fall victim to the lion's clutches are those who become separated from the pack due to injury, inexperience (being young) or lack of foot speed (old age). What spoke to me about this phenomenon this week is how this depicts what happens in the community of faith in regards to spiritual warfare. Those who claim to be followers of Jesus who are not connected in AUTHENTIC community with others will be devoured by the enemy. The pack that sticks together, the community that journeys together, withstands the attack of the enemy.
The issue facing the church today is that we have built up the program while tearing down the relationship. If you look at the early church, the key reason why new believers were connecting and identifying with this new way of life was because they were attracted to the community, to the relational connection they observed within the community of faith. If we are to truly gain some ground in the battle of good vs. evil, we must be willing to partner with Christ in developing and deepening the relational connection within the community.
Let's take a page from the LFC play-book. Let's make sure that no one will have to walk alone by inviting others into relationship with Christ and with the church.