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Finding Faith: It's not a solo endeavor

Devlyn Brooks writes: "That is exactly what it means to be a part of the body of Christ: Living in faith together provides support, encouragement and a reason to keep fighting the good fight."

Devlyn Brooks 2021
Devlyn Brooks
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There is a reason that the Apostle Paul spends so much time writing about believers being the body of Christ.

For instance, in 1 Corinthians 12:27, he writes: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

And I believe the reason is we are meant to be in faith together, one large, collective body encouraging each other, celebrating joys together and helping to make all of the world’s hurts bearable.

We try so hard to make faith an individual endeavor, but the truth is that Jesus told us that following in his footsteps meant loving our neighbors. He tried to teach us that we see Christ through the eyes of another.

This week, I was fortunate to spend two days with other first call pastors from around eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. A first call is generally considered a pastor’s first three years. The retreat brought us together for continued training, fellowship and the opportunity to talk about life as a pastor with others who understand.

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For two days we talked about the joys and struggles of ministry, including ministry in rural areas, ministry in an age with a declining North American church and ministry in a post-COVID age. The expectation wasn’t to come away with answers, but rather give us space to verbalize what we are experiencing.

And that is exactly what it means to be a part of the body of Christ: Living in faith together provides support, encouragement and a reason to keep fighting the good fight.

Sure, there were a lot of topics that could have left us feeling dejected about pastoral life. But instead, the time spent together in study, in friendship, in song and in communion did the opposite. It renewed us, refreshed us and strengthened our resolve to return home to our own places of worship and buoy our congregations.

Faith was never meant to be a solo endeavor. But we like to fool ourselves into believing that the strongest people are the ones who can go it alone, who don’t rely on anyone else. That plays right into the mythology of the American lone wolf, the idea that somehow we can do it all on our own if only we are strong enough.

I am so grateful that I was able to leave the retreat with a renewed sense of awe over how God works, a fresh sense of pastoral call and an admiration for the folks doing ministry in our church. It can be an isolating and challenging profession. So we were blessed to witness how the Holy Spirit worked among us at the retreat.

What a special treat to have the space to remind us just how beautiful the body of Christ is!

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Related Topics: FAITH
Opinion by Devlyn Brooks
Devlyn Brooks is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and serves Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minn. He also works for Forum Communications Co. He can be reached at devlyn.brooks@forumcomm.com for comments and story ideas.
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