One of the things that creates the most separation and inhibits our ability to practice authentic community is our inability to be real with one another. Coming into Biola, I felt like I was the only broken person surrounded by people that somehow had it all together. Even as I walk in a sea of five thousand people, I have never felt more alone.
superficial with one another
What I realized, looking back on my first semester, is that Biola fosters a community that allows us to be superficial with one another. Whether it takes the form of the “have a good day” you hear as you leave the bathroom or in the small talk with people outside of class, I came to the conclusion it is easier to be fake with others and wear a mask when relationships have no depth to them.
We rob ourselves of the opportunities for growth and fellowship when we operate out of a place of inauthenticity. We as believers are called to be in fellowship with one another, to build one another up as “iron sharpens iron,” as encouraged in Proverbs 27.
encourage one another
Now when the Bible mentions building one another up, this is not referring to the occasional off-handed compliment. John Gill’s “Exposition of the Bible” refers to the encouragement to stay focused on God, to wrestle with one another about issues and to pray with one another. We are called to, in the strictest sense, be real with one another.
Paul’s exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 states we are to “encourage one another, and build up one another.” While a Christian community can act as a good and safe place to operate out of, it can also create a mentality where things such as temptation, struggles and doubt are often suppressed or looked upon poorly.
I found myself doubting God and my beliefs when times became hard. I felt that in admitting I harbored doubts and wrestled with temptations, I would be admitting that I am a weak or bad Christian. What I began to realize is that we are placed on earth with one another so we could walk through these issues of life with one another.
Biola especially should serve as a place where it is safe to doubt and not know all the answers. Psalms 55:13-14 exemplifies this as David writes, “But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshippers.”
My encouragement, for myself as well as others, is to be real with one another. Be the person who seeks real relationships with one another as we walk this narrow path of life. Be the follower of Christ that seeks to intimately know one another in the ways that may not always be so perfect or wholesome or fit the expectations of a Biola student. Be in rich fellowship with one another by being nothing more than authentic. As stated in 1 Peter 4:8-10, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”