Why must a Christian be in Community in a Local Church? (4)
We’ve been looking closely at Hebrews 10:23-25 and the importance of Christian community in the context of local church life. The exhortations we find here are clear enough, but what reasons does our author give for why we should be so urgent in responding to them? Continue reading . . .
We’ve been looking closely at Hebrews 10:23-25 and the importance of Christian community in the context of local church life. The exhortations we find here are clear enough, but what reasons does our author give for why we should be so urgent in responding to them?
“23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 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.”
First, look closely at the conclusion of v. 25. The importance of meeting regularly to stir up one another to love and good works, the importance of meeting regularly to encourage one another to hope ever more fervently in the promises of a faithful God, is grounded in the fact that with each passing day we come closer to the end of the age when Christ will return.
And according to numerous texts, the end of the age will bring with it increasing chaos and temptation and persecution and threats and trials and hardship. As we approach the Day of Christ’s return there will be more and more trouble, more and more cause for stress, more and more Satanic opposition.
I hardly need to mention this to you. Just open your eyes! If you can’t see the rapidly increasing decay of our society, morally, politically, economically, and spiritually, then you are dull and dense and beyond my ability to convince you otherwise! It will become increasingly difficult to be a Christian in the days ahead. Finding an excuse to bail out and join the other side will be increasingly easy when the pressure starts to mount. Never before have we so desperately needed each other!
Isolated, Lone-Ranger-Christians who think they can make it on their own and they don’t need the local church are destined to fail. Those who dismiss all this “one-anothering stuff” and this call for mutual encouragement are worse than fools.
The second thing I want to mention in closing isn’t found in the text. But it’s found elsewhere in God’s Word.
People ask me all the time how we at Bridgeway Church incorporate and express spiritual gifts in our large, Sunday morning meetings. And I tell them that it is very hard to do. We are under time pressure and it’s difficult to make room for prophecy and word of knowledge and praying for healing and many of the other gifts. We do it as well as it can be done, but the primary place for the use of your spiritual gift is in a small group. Five hundred people can’t speak in a Sunday morning gathering. Not everyone can exhort and encourage others or remind them of God’s promises. You can’t exercise mercy or serve as you would like to. But this can happen if you are part of small group!
You need to set aside time so that you aren’t rushed and to wait patiently for the Spirit to move. It’s only in a small group that you can create a safe atmosphere so people don’t have to be afraid of failure. They can take risks they would never take on a platform in front of 500 people.
I trust that now we are done you have a greater sense for the urgency and practical necessity of being embedded in the life of a local church community. I certainly do!