Scripture: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
Observation: In this chapter, the author, addressing his audience of Jewish converts to the Christian faith who are now encountering persecution and suffering, reassures them that under this new covenant that Jeremiah foretold, Christ ended the endless and futile sin offerings by offering himself as the perfected and completed sacrifice for those “who are being sanctified” (verse 14). He then urges Christ’s followers to draw near the Lord with a clear conscience and “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (verse 23). How do we “hold fast”? By stirring one another to love and do good works and by encouraging one another to persevere in their faith journeys—all of which necessitates regularly meeting together (verses 24-25).
Takeaway: It is in our human nature to isolate when encountering trials and suffering—particularly when we are angry or feel shame or self-pity. We don’t want others to see us in a vulnerable state of mind. Indeed, the enemy is opportunistic and will whisper into our thought life: “Don’t meet with them. You’ll fall apart and embarrass youself. They won’t understand why your depressed or angry. They will judge you and won’t respect you.” His goal? Like any predator, he seeks to separate us from the pack.
So how do we move toward one another when everything inside us tells us to hole up? First, we need to be still before our God. We can become our worst enemy when we anxiously try to fix ourselves, for we listen to the lies instead of the Truth. But when we surrender in the quiet places and listen to the Holy Spirit (who points us to Christ), we take the first step on our escape route toward grace. The Holy Spirit reassures us of the Father and Son’s love for us and reminds us of the importance of leaning on the community of believers to help us rise above the power of sin and suffering. Then, when we step out in faith and gather with other Christians in worship, even if we fall apart, we open ourselves to the Lord’s grace and love through fellow strugglers who encourage us.
Is it a perfect process? Of course not. We live in a “now but not yet” world where Christians get it wrong. But if we make it a habit to meet no matter what we are going through, we will learn who can be trusted and reap the rewards of staying connected to the body of Christ.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who for a moment in history disconnected from you to bear our sins in his body and usher in the New Covenant of Grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Would you please help us to submit to the Holy Spirit’s guidance when tempted to isolate ourselves that we might stay connected to the body of Christ, his church? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling