Timothy has come . . . and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. (1 Thess. 3:6–7)

When I picture holiness, I easily imagine lone prophets or monks, fully dedicated to God, serenely living a life in prayer, perhaps alone on a mountain or in a desert somewhere. Often, when I am frustrated by my own failings, by the way I treat others when irritated or impatient, I think the best response is to withdraw. My image of holiness says that to encounter God, I must distance myself from other people.

But the image of holiness that Paul, the writer of 1 Thessalonians, offered is far more relational. First, he noted how encouragement and testimony can strengthen the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and he pointed out the joy found in selfless, loving community. Then he said that desiring such fellowship is right—a reflection of God’s own Trinitarian nature. Finally, he said that a communal pursuit of holiness culminates in love that overflows the boundaries of our circles—and that love is made perfect by Christ.

Paul seemed to say that this holy community is vital to the Christian walk. In fact, it’s often what makes the walk bearable! Especially in times when we feel powerless on our own, or alone with our doubts, or helpless in the face of injustice, the answer is often found in holy community, where Christ’s blood redeems us and we join his holy body.

Write down three believers who might help you in difficult times.

Lindsey Priest is an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate and lives in Arkansas with her husband and two sons. She likes to read to the kids, play video games with her husband, and refurbish furniture.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.