Sometimes, as followers of Christ from different traditions, we get into conflict over how faith works. Is God a personal God seeking individual commitment? Can we serve God effectively on our own without a faith community? Or does God work through groups—churches, communities, families? Must we belong to some congregation in order to be faithful to Christ? Through the centuries, Christian teachers have emphasized one or the other, but perhaps we do ourselves a disservice when we make these two possibilities a choice. 

This Sunday we read that Jesus goes home with Simon where Simon’s mother-in-law is very ill, and Jesus heals her. It’s a touching story of remarkable particularity in Jesus’ ministry. It reveals his care for and commitment to the individuals who had chosen to follow him. There is no question, when we read this story, that God is a personal God, available to each of us individually. But then, immediately after this story, we discover the whole community gathering at the door of the house—bringing their needs to Jesus. And, again, with this nameless crowd, Jesus is present, available, and compassionate. Finally, after taking some time out to recharge, the disciples tell Jesus that people are looking for him, but he tells them that they must continue on to other villages in the region to minister to others. It’s like the Gospel writer wants to show us how Jesus’ ministry moved so comfortably from the individual to the community to the country. Jesus did not choose between individuals and communities. He embraced both. 

There are challenges and benefits to both personal spirituality and to communal worship, and I believe that in some form we all need both. This week, you may want to explore how you can bring your personal worship and your public worship together as you seek to love and follow Christ. 

 To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.