Christian belief is not a mere intellectual exercise. The heart has its reasons. The reasons of the heart come from our religious experience of Jesus Christ in our lives. Our belief is a free joyous grateful response. We have the privilege of calling Jesus Christ a friend. However, this active experience is not just a private affair that has no effect on our lives. Our Christian experience leads to a liberating practice of love. It is not enough to say the words, we must live the life. We cannot be unfaithful to the essential message of Jesus Christ. We need a holistic approach to faith. If religion was intellectual only, it would be only an abstraction and a mind game. On the other hand, if it is only emotional, it becomes superstition. Christianity is a way of life, a commitment, an active involvement.
No man is an island. We exist in a society, in a community. We grow up in a family, in a community of people. As a Christian, we must live in a Christian community. The Christian religious experience is always lived within a community. Individual spirituality leads to a commitment not merely as an individual, but to the larger community of Christian believers. Even the hermits understood that they shared in the larger Christian community. Just as there is no religious practice without a religion, there cannot be any Christian belief except within a Christian community, a Christian Church. An individual and communal faith goes hand in hand, not face to face. God created us out of love, so faith is within a community. If faith is not communal it is not complete. Nevertheless, nearly half of American Christian believers are not affiliated with a church, because we live in a highly individualist country. There is a certain hypocrisy that allows each of us to define our morality as what we would like to do. We have lost the sense of personal and social responsibility for the common good as “me” and my individual personal experience becomes more important. We are social by nature and need the common experience of worship.