By Bob Hudson
Community matters. I know from experience. I grew up going to public school, where faith wasn’t really a topic that anyone was dying to talk about. I didn’t have any Christian friends. Sure, I had plenty of friends who celebrated Christmas and Easter, and some who even attended church occasionally. But there was no one who truly loved Christ – not that I could tell anyway. And unfortunately there were not many guys my own age at my church. So I didn’t get very close to anyone there either.
The result of all this? Not much, at least in terms of my spiritual growth. I remained an entry-level Christian, not having gone much deeper than when I first came to Christ. I believed Jesus loved me; I believed he died for my sins, and I believed I had to confess my sins to him and have faith to be saved. But I never went a whole lot deeper than that. I didn’t know I was supposed to. In my mind I was all set! There was no one in my life to encourage me to dig deeper, to explore what the implications of living for Christ really are.
I first experienced that challenge in high school. My youth pastor had me questioning whether or not I was truly living out my faith. I realized the answer was no, but I didn’t know what to do to fix it. By my sophomore year in college, I started to figure it out. I had joined Campus Crusade for Christ the previous year, although I had kept myself somewhat distanced, wanting to be part of the ministry but at the same time trying to enjoy the typical college experience. But during my sophomore year I moved in with other guys from the ministry. For the first time in my life I was seeing on a very regular basis what it looks like to live for Christ. This was the first time I had others building me up in my faith on a regular basis, praying for me, praying with me, and encouraging me. This challenged me and really made me want to be like them. It showed me there is more to faith than just confession – that true faith is lived out in a very real way in the life of those who believe. And it is through this Christ-centered community that I learned what it meant to lay my whole life down before the cross of Christ.