Thursday, November 21, 2019

Building Up Our Community of Faith

Thursday, November 21, 2019
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25

In the verses 24 and 25 of the passage above, we are persuaded to encourage other Christians. “And let us consider how to stimulate (spur) one another to love and good deeds.”  Verse 24 begins, “let us consider one another…”.It means “to observe attentively, or understand, fix one’s eyes or mind upon.” In short, we are to focus on encouraging one another.  It is not to be accidental but intentional.  I like how The Message goes: “Let’s see how inventive we can be…” Let us think of creative ways of encouraging others.

The emphasis is upon getting to know one another in our community of faith.  There results a creative interchange that leads to both love and good works.  When a person is known for all he or she is, with all the wrinkles and foibles, and yet is loved, trust is engendered and creative risking becomes a possibility.  We can say, “So what if I fail at a good attempt? I will be loved. I am confident of that. He or she knows me and still loves me; I can attempt my idea.” This then makes possible one of the goals of the Christian life—good works (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14–18).  Such good works do not always come naturally or automatically.  Our exhorter encourages his readers to both love and good works.

Verse 24 continues, “let us consider how we may spur one another on…” To spur means “to stir up, provoke, stimulate or incite someone to do something.”  In other words, to create a thirst.  A thirst for what?  “toward love and good deeds.”  That’s how we measure encouragement.  It is not a fuzzy feeling.  If someone became a more loving person or a better person, then we really encouraged him or her.

Church can be a great place to get caught up on the latest football games, golf scores, family news, health concerns, or just to visit with friends. A cup of coffee together, a warm handshake, a friendly pat on the back are all part of the social interaction we need as human beings.  All of this is good, but New Testament fellowship goes much deeper than merely socializing when we get together at church.  It takes place when we consider how we can lift up, build up, and brighten up our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Christian fellowship takes place when we offer encouragement to our friends, pray for them, and confess our sins and weaknesses to one another.  These are the elements that make fellowship genuine.  What about our church?  Are we merely socializing?  Or are we practicing true Christian fellowship?  Christian fellowship builds us up and binds us together.

We’ve all heard SOMEONE COMPLAIN that the people in a certain church aren't friendly, or that they seem to be lacking in love.  Although such criticisms may be true, the one doing the complaining is often a part of the problem.  To feel the love and friendliness in church, we may need to pour a little of our own love in first.  It was God's love toward us that prompted our love in return.  This principle also works in our relationship with other Christians. Try it!

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Colossians 3:15

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