After taking some time to reflect on my experience at EQUIP Boot Camp this year, I realized that the Holy Spirit had used the time spent on Precept’s campus this summer to convict me about an incorrect, sinful pattern in my thinking. Here’s the lie – the only necessary component to a fulfilling Christian life is the health of my personal relationship with God: my Bible study, my prayer life, my personal holiness.
You see, before studying Ephesians at EQUIP, I was living, albeit unknowingly, like I did not need my fellow Christians. Now don’t get me wrong, I was not one of those so-called “Lone-Ranger Christians,” who say things like, “I love Jesus, but I don’t like the Church.” In fact, if you had asked me before camp, I would have told you that I loved the Church and knew “that Christian community was beneficial to my spiritual health and growth.” But it is that very statement that reveals the lie I was believing.
Notice that I said that Christian community was “beneficial” to my growth as a Christian. Saying that something is beneficial is drastically different from deeming something necessary. A benefit would be: something good that is added on to what is needed. For example, let’s pretend that I go to a fast-food restaurant and order a cheeseburger and they tell me, “well sir, it’s your lucky day because today we have a buy-one-get-one-free deal on cheeseburgers.”
Great, huh?!! But notice that all I needed was one cheeseburger to satisfy my hunger; the additional burger was only an added benefit. In contrast, to call something necessary is to say that it is essential or required for something to be what it is. Food is necessary for me to have because my body would starve and die without it.
Well this is how I treated the Church. I thought I could survive as a Christian without my fellow brothers and sisters while recognizing that their community could be an added luxury to my life. But as I studied Ephesians 4:11–16 at Boot Camp, these verses condemned my thinking.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
What these verses are saying is that if we are to attain a “mature manhood” or be built up into Christ, each part of the body must work properly. This is a crazy idea, that God has chosen to use us to conform each other into the image of Christ. But without the Church, we are starving our Christian life.
Not only was I confronted with this truth in Ephesians, but I witnessed it every day at Boot Camp. There were so many necessary components that went into making camp successful; take away any of them and it would not have worked properly. Here are just a few of them:
— At the guidance of the teachers, students studied the Word for themselves for over 4 hours a day in classroom time.
— The staff poured their hearts and lives into their campers during room and team times.
— The support staff worked behind the scenes to set up and tear down.
— The main session speakers spoke truth into the students during main session.
— The prayerful worship led by Joy and Jeff during main and mini-main sessions.
— The leadership and administrative gifts utilized by Carlotta and Kiersten, without which the camp would have been chaotic.
As a result of all these moving parts working together, the lives of the students, the staff and my own life were changed. At EQUIP, I realized that this is what a fulfilled Christian life looks like. I realized that I need the Church.
If you happen to know Richard you know that he lives with purpose! Richard has been around the Precept Ministries for years, has served as one of our summer interns, and now serves on the Transform Student Ministries staff. Richard attends Lee University as a graduate student and hopes to someday be a college professor. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his beautiful wife Courtney, and his baby Beni!