I work in business. One of the common refrains once you’re in management is that “this management thing would be a whole lot easier if it wasn’t for the people.” And its true. If everything worked on autopilot, everything would be a lot simpler. It wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining, but it would definitely run smoother.
The same could be said about many people’s walk of faith. “If it wasn’t for Christians, this Christian thing would be a lot easier.” For many people, Christians challenge what they believe to be true about God mostly because regardless of how you slice it, we’re all still sinners. For some reason, its easier to accept our own frailties than those of others, but that’s a tangent for another time. Suffice to say, Christians make us rethink Christianity in a number of ways. We challenge God’s extension of grace to people we deem less-than-worthy. We mock the sincerity of another’s faith because their actions don’t meet our high standards. And for those who have been in the Church for any length of time, you quickly learn that other believers cause you the greatest pain and the deepest grief. God didn’t intend for it be this way, but then again, God didn’t intend for Eve to eat the fruit.
What God did intend was that other Christians would be our primary nourishment for growing in grace. As John Bunyan said, “Christians are like the flowers in a garden, that have each of them the dew of Heaven, which, being shaken with the wind, they let fall at each other’s roots, whereby they are jointly nourished, and become nourishers of each other.” In other words, Christians should encourage our faith, not detract from it.
Maybe its easier to think of fellow believers not as nourishment, but as fertilizers. Even with all the garbage mixed in, they build our strength, solidify our resolve, and cause us to grow in grace.