As much as it pains me to admit it, I’ve never been a good basketball player. My organized basketball career consists of one summer church league in which I barely had a stat line for the entire season. Sure, I had plenty of chances to take open shots, but I almost always deferred because I had no confidence I could make them.

If I wanted, to, though, I could make it my passion to get good at basketball. I could spend two or three hours on the court every day, dribbling up and down the floor and shooting hundreds of jump shots and free throws. That would undoubtedly improve me as a player. However, if I did that for months, just me, the ball, and the hoop, I’d be in for a rude awakening the next time I got back in a 5-on-5 game. Sure, I’d be much improved, but adding teammates and defenders changes everything. You have to learn to work with your teammates – to pass, to set screens, to provide spacing. And, having opponents who are trying to stop you from taking good shots and are also putting you on the defensive is a wildly different proposition than taking jump shots and layups in an empty gym. The point of basketball is not to be really good at shooting in an empty gym. It’s about teaming up with four other people to defeat five opponents.

In the same sense, Christianity is not just about getting good at observing religion on our own. Instead, the Christian life is about giving ourselves up for God’s purposes in the context of a family. As Paul’s body analogy passages demonstrate, the gifts and strengths God has given you were given to bless and strengthen others  (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). For the weaknesses you have, He’s blessed you with a family who can build you up and strengthen you (Galatians 6:1-2, Hebrews 3:12-13). We were made to need each other.

Unfortunately, so much of modern Christianity is billed as a “you and God” pursuit. Of course it’s important that each of us has a daily walk with God, but our walk was never meant to be kept to ourselves.

In practical terms, this means we stop thinking individually and start thinking of ourselves as part of a family. A couple of examples:

  • We know that God will comfort in times of stress or sorrow. One of the clearest ways He does so is by surrounding you with people who will weep with you when you weep (Romans 12:15).
  • We’ve also been told God will get us through temptations and struggles with sin. Of course He will. And one of the ways He does so is by giving us a church family to whom we can confess (James 5:16) and receive accountability and encouragement (Galatians 6:1-2).

God certainly saves people, but He also is saving a people, the church. Where we read and apply the New Testament as individuals, He calls us to read and apply it together. Work on your relationship with God, of course, but don’t forget to take that growth found on the practice court and bring it to the team game that is Christianity.

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