(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice 

Imagine yourself in the church of Ephesus caught up in all manners of debate regarding fundamental issues to the faith. Did Christ literally come to earth? Is He of the exact nature as the Father? Must we continue to keep the law? Imagine as brothers and sisters of the faith are swept up in clever language and abandoning the gift of the gospel. Imagine local leaders being dismissed as these debates flare up or even being outwitted in public forums, unable to defend their faith in Christ. The Church needed an outside hand, such as an apostle, to step in and steady the reigns to keep the church on the orthodox trajectory. 

Of course, there are numerous themes we can draw from such a thought experiment, but this article will only address two—the benefit of far-off friends and, secondly, how we defend the faith of the church.  

From a modern perspective, it can be surprising how united the early church was. When we compare the tools we have at our fingertips to the amount of work it took for the apostles to carry out the great commission, there is such a beauty in the work it took to remain connected with those who heard and accepted the gospel, to establish a church, and then set off to the next place to repeat the process–all while maintaining relations with the previous believers they had evangelized or discipled. Most of our New Testament is from letters sent to specific churches after the apostles had left them. In all of these letters, we see some remarkable things.  

1) We see gratitude for the congregation and reminders that the congregation is covered in prayer (1 Thessalonians 1:2) 

2) We see encouragement given to the local congregation (Ephesians 1:1)  

3) We see the inclusion of the greater body of Christ beyond the local congregation cheering on the recipients of the letter (1 Corinthians 16:18)   

Often, these letters would come years after the writer had last seen the congregation. In a time when communication was substantially more difficult and dangerous than it is today, people from around the Roman Empire kept in contact with one another while maintaining familiarity, love, and hope for their brothers and sisters in Christ. The scriptures repeat this point time and again: how to greet a fellow believer, to keep one another in prayers, to rejoice for them, and while many churches do this well in their own congregation, they fail to do it for neighboring congregations. It would seem the clear example from scripture is we should not be isolated in our churches but should yearn to grow closer with all who believe in Christ so we can strengthen one another, encourage one another, and together run the race of faith for which we have each individually and collectively been tasked with running. 

As we approach election season, there will be an ever stronger cry by many people to do this or that in the name of Christ or Christianity. It should be our prayer that we are not swayed by the clever words of people seeking personal gain but united in the gospel each of us believes. United in the great commission as we seek to disciple the world as we ourselves have been discipled.  

Will you pray with me?  

Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunity we have to come together on such a regular basis to praise you, to give thanks to you, and to learn from you. As these next few months march on, we ask that you would grant us a heart of unity and compassion that we may remember every person is wonderfully and fearfully made. Give us a heart that yearns for the reconciliation of the lost, the return of the prodigal children, and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who we may strongly disagree with. Remind us of the power of connection outside our local congregation so that we may encourage and be encouraged by others serving you. We pray in Jesus’ name, 


Previous articleKings County Water District Withdraws from Mid-Kings River GSA 
Next articleSave-the-Date for these Agricultural Events