Quick, count how many Christian friends you have. Now count how many non-Christian friends you have. Chances are, the former outnumber the latter.
Christians often use the concept of “in but not of the world” in John 17:14-18 to justify pulling themselves out of secular communities and into strict Christian circles. Holy Huddles.
The problem is that some huddles trade true holiness for it’s gaudy counterfeit. We usually start well, with sincere prayer, devotions and a heart to bless the wider community. Before long, like a youthful couple plunging too quickly into isolated exclusivity, Christian communities lose touch with the outside world, focusing excessively on internal needs and external failures.
We become a rule-keeping club: Chastity before marriage, no smoking, no drugs, no alcohol (except during communion, if Ribena is not available), no cussing, no gangsta rap and definitely no tattoos.
But if all we ever see is each other, how then can we love our neighbour?
If a member struggles to conform, we cover him with prayers against the world’s defilement, that our purity will not be tarnished, and we’ll still be able to earn Jesus’ nod of approval. If you’re not from the club, sit elsewhere.
But if all we ever see is each other, how then can we love our neighbour (Luke 10:27)? How will we be salt and light to a watching world (Matthew 5:13-16)? How can we seek and enjoy the presence of God in Christian fellowship, yet be unwilling to be sent out (Isaiah 6:8)?
SO, NO MORE HUDDLING?
This backlash to the Holy Huddle is now sweeping through Christian communities. With Jesus as our role model, we set out to dine with sinners. We set out to dismantle the concept of a walled church entirely.
It sounds revolutionary. Jesus is all over our social media profiles, his cross around our necks, and his songs in our playlists. Hello, Hebrew tattoo!
But the tragedy is we more closely resemble Jesus hipsters than actual followers of Christ. We mistake Jesus’ countercultural life for being countercultural for it’s own sake. If believers in Jesus live, behave, dress, speak, “love” and sin just like unbelievers do, a world remains unchanged. If we are not in Christian communities loving one another as Jesus loved His disciples, the world will not know we are His disciples (John 13:35).
So if huddling’s bad, and not huddling’s also bad … then how?
Christian community is vital to life of believers. Perhaps we just need to make the huddle holy again. Acts 2 shows us how.
First, believers must come together (Acts 2:44). Back then, society was a harsh place for believers. In Hebrews 10:19-25, weary believers in the early church held fast to their faith by being plugged into a caring community.
The Body serves one another (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), with each part possessing different gifts and talents that make up for the lack in others. No member grew, or served in isolation, which seemed to be squandering one’s God-given potential.
Then there is the need to pray for one another. Acts 1:14 talks about prayer among the close-knit followers of Jesus as they awaited Pentecost. More than love, teaching, and encouragement, believers must intentionally spur one another to discern and pray for God’s will above our own, as Jesus (Luke 22:42) and the Apostles did (James 4:3, 1 John 5:14).
Collectively, Christians should themselves to learning from Scripture (Acts 2:42). Ephesians 4:12-16 calls for the Body to be “built up to unity in the faith and knowledge of Jesus, to the maturity and stature of the fullness of Christ”, and sufficiently mature in love that its individual members are “no longer tossed around” by the waves of new “doctrine, human cunningness or deceitfulness”.
At its core, Christian fellowship is about agape (Ephesians 3:17-19) and treating one another with the mind, love, and humility of Christ (Philippians 2:1-11).
How edifying, uplifting, and rewarding a faith community could be. It’s not filled with programmes, activities, or agendas. Not a chore, or a sterile classroom, but a celebration of relationship. Broken lives centred around a common hope. When we truly understand, live and breathe as the body of Christ, heavy hearts become light, strongholds are broken, new life ensues.
RECHARGE, THEN JUMP BACK IN
A Holy Huddle should be a spiritual oasis that brings wandering, tired minds back to the plan. You distance yourself from a screaming world, and realign your priorities, thoughts and emotions to God. You reconnect to His presence, truth and love again.
So, you on the sidelines. Get in! There’s people out there hurting, fighting, and searching for something, but they don’t quite know what it is (Romans 10:14-15). They need the Good News, His Kingdom and righteousness, and someone has to bring it to them. Dig deep and get to work. We’ve got a world to heal! Every soul matters. Which is why every member of Team Jesus counts.
That means you, too. Come join the Holy Huddle. The right kind of Holy Huddle.