“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)
A super-bad, ugly, discouraging day. I’ve had a few of those days. And sometimes it’s not the big problems in life that get me down, it’s the little things—the vacuum cord tangles (again), our dog vomits on the carpet (inches away from the tile), and something spills in the fridge (usually something gross and old). Being around anyone is the last thing on my mind. But, if it’s a Sunday, I rush off to church bringing these little frustrations with me.
However, I have to say, once I step foot on the church property all those little things fade to the furthest recesses of my mind. I see greeters with big smiles, friends come into focus, and discouragement on every level is bested by the fellowship of the saints.
Meet my church. Your church. The Church. It’s the gathering the Lord established at Pentecost—it isn’t a place, but a people. “But wait,” you might ask, “if the church is a people, why are we told to gather together?”
Look with me at the Gospel of Luke, chapter 13. There, Jesus speaks of “a” fig tree. One tree. A tree in isolation. A man sought fruit from the tree but found none. Why wasn’t there fruit? Because the tree was alone. Consider forests and orchards: fruit abounds because there’s opportunity for cross-pollination, genetic diversity, and protection against pests and disease. Trees that stand together bear greater fruit; isolated trees don’t fare as well.
Friends, while the Church is composed of people, we do better when we stand together, when we are undivided! In today’s verse (emphasis added), Paul wrote to “consider one another . . . stir up love and good works . . . exhorting one another and so much more.” Yes, going to church means to expect to hear from the Lord, but we should also go with the expectation of giving back to the Lord by giving to others. God has given us extraordinary spiritual gifts for a reason—to share them. It’s cross-pollination that ensures new growth.
Bad days happen, even seasons. This year there have been forces at work to prevent us from joining together. Satan knows he has lost our souls; therefore, he wants to neutralize our lives so we don’t have an impact on others.
Let it not be! Rather, let’s meet together as children of God, an army of the Lord, and help one another grow spiritually and bear healthy fruit. In the words of a dear friend, Pastor Dan Hickling, “God gives us three indispensable gifts in this life: His Word, His Spirit, and His people.”
PAUSE: What is your view of the Church? What is its purpose?
PRACTICE: Does the idea of what you can bring to the Church open up this view?
PRAY: God, let not the small things nor the big things ever prevent me from seeing the vision You have for Your Church or for me. Father, I know sometimes You place me in isolated places to teach me something about Yourself, but let what I learn be useful and not barren so I will comfort others with the same comfort You have given me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.