In my travels I often meet folks who do not attend church. They don’t attend for a variety of reasons but the most common response I get when I ask them why they don’t belong to a faith community is “I have a relationship with God and don’t need to go to church to know him. I see him in nature.” I think today’s reading from the First letter of John tells us something quite different. Knowledge and a true understanding of God can only be mediated through Jesus Christ and while nature may reveal the majestic and awesome power of God it is only through Jesus Christ that we can have an intimate relationship with God. While I believe that God through Jesus can reveal himself as he wishes at anytime it is through living life and worshipping together in Christian community that we truly come to know Jesus. Life in Christian community is a safety net that prevents us from creating false pictures of God that serve our own selfish needs and keeps us accountable to one another as we pray prayers of forgiveness for one another’s sins. It is only in community that we can combat false ideas about who Jesus is and where we model the love he has for each one of us. “Little children, keep your selves from idols” anything that that causes you to stumble and fall away from a relationship with God. A life lived in community removes some of those stumbling blocks. Today’s reading reminds us that we are the children of God and if we ask anything according to his will he will hear us. My prayer today is that God will continue to strengthen the love we have for him and each other as we worship, pray and live life together and that he will continue to reveal himself to us by removing stumbling blocks in each of our lives that keep us from seeing what is true and what is not.