Communities of faith provide an arena for accountability, growth, and compassionate correction. All of these blessings are part of our experience as we pursue the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These are not, however, the only blessings that come from a life shared with other believers. Communities of faith—standing as alternatives to the world that lives by its own rules and forgets God in the process—also offer the blessing of remembrance.
I can remember large family gatherings from my early childhood and a house full of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone else who was part of the family. One of the memories that stands out is that when we all got together, we rarely spent much time talking about the future, but we talked for hours and hours sharing stories from the past. We seem to crave this sense of identity that is linked to being part of something older than our birth certificate.
When we hear the wisdom and recollections of those men and women who are two and even three generations closer to the beginning than we are, we are aware that something significant lies behind the furrowed skin and sagacious speech. These are people who have traveled long journeys with God. If we watch and listen closely, we cannot help but notice that there is much to be learned from those with much to remember.
God has frequently reminded His people to remember Him and His millennia-long relationship with His creation. Who, however, can remember all that we need to know on our own? How can we remember lessons that we have not learned? Is it possible to gain knowledge and wisdom if we have not gained it with sweat and tears? This is possible when we are willing to teach and be taught by those with whom we share life’s journey.
God taught Moses to teach the Israelites to teach their children and grandchildren about their history with God so that they would never “forget the LORD, who brought [them] out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 6:12). Centuries later, the Israelite prophets called the people to remember and return to the LORD. The New Testament writers do the same thing when they challenge their hearers and readers to cling tenaciously to their faith when life is difficult. They tell us to hold on and maintain our faith, because our trust is placed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is a God with whom we have history.
The community of believers stands as a reminder that God has worked and is still working in the lives of His people today. God has not changed. He is still holy, righteous, and just. He is still compassionate, gracious, and merciful. He will forever be linked to those who remember who they are and why they are here, with Him and one another, in community.