Another variable that affects our lives involves the way God relates to groups, nations, or corporate entities, and how everyone in such bodies of people can receive the consequences of corporate sin. There are times when what one person experiences is due to God’s grace, reward, mercy or wrath on an entire group of which he is a part. There are many examples of this in the Word of God. All the Egyptians suffered because of Pharaoh’s hard heart. Another example is in Joshua 7, where the army of Israel was defeated because of the sin of Achan and his family.
Although it may not at first seem “fair” that a person would be dealt with by God as part of a group, rather than on his or her own merits, the Bible and history clearly indicate that this happens. This is one of the main reasons why Christians are to be concerned about “social evils,” and work to keep society free from sin. Certain cultures have been and are much more God-oriented and accepting of spiritual truth than are others. That is one reason why God exhorts believers to pray for community leaders that the laws they make are conducive to Christians being free to live according to the dictates of God’s Word (1 Tim. 2:1ff).
In the category of how God relates to groups of people is something we will call “community faith,” that is, the mutual faith of individual Christians who associate with one another. Jesus alluded to this when he spoke of two or three believers gathered together in his name (Matt. 18:20). Every Christian knows that some churches or fellowships are “hot” and see great movements of God on a regular basis, while other churches are “cold” and have not seen God move powerfully in years. The fervent prayers of a group of Christians who are “of one accord” are synergistic, that is, greater than the sum of their individual prayers. In the spiritual battle, there are times when we as Christians must “link arms” with other brethren in order to be victorious (Acts 4:23-33).
When Jesus Christ walked among people, the love and power in his words and deeds generated great faith in many people. In other words, Jesus himself was a compelling object of faith. Today, Jesus is not living among us in person. But, via the gift of holy spirit, he does live within each Christian. As each of us comes to know the Lord Jesus and exercises his supernatural power resident within us, and as we speak the truth in love one to another, we provide visible examples of God’s goodness, and thus help others grow in faith. This is one reason why dynamic Christian fellowship based upon the truth of God’s Word is indispensable, as the following verses show. Without it, many believers remain weak in faith.
(23) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(24) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
(25) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
To do what the above verses exhort us to do, we must first be learning the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our individual lives — by prayer, reading the Word and reaching out to others in his stead, among other things. As we do this, our confidence in who we are in the Lord, our awareness of our own function in the Body of Christ and our zeal to diligently carry it out all grow.
Second, we must get together with other Christians, and continue to do so on a regular basis, and in a variety of ways. Third, whenever we do so, our attitude should be, “What can I do to bless someone?” The more secure you are in Christ, the more you are willing to be vulnerable in reaching out to others via loving doctrine, reproof or correction. The more real the Lord Jesus is to you, the more confident you are that he will work in you to help your brethren. This is why fellowship and faith are in one way mutually dependent. It is much more difficult to grow in faith if you are not actively involved in a Christian fellowship that is based upon the truth of God’s Word, practiced in love.