Saturday, April 18, 2009

Christianity Works Best with Us; Not Me

Today I spent a few minutes with a wonderful young man I mentored last year. He had been through an ordeal that could have complicated his life unbelievably. He saw how people let him down, but I saw the strategy of our number one enemy in this spiritual warfare. From my viewpoint I saw the devious strategy of the sneaky attacks on this young overcomer. BUT just in time; Truth came forth and he acted quickly and he was totally spared.

I almost danced a jig.... right there in the clothing store where this young man works. He saw my joy; and he got it! Heaven swept down in time to save him right in the middle of the mess. "I never looked at all that, Ms. Kay. But I see it; I was spared and I praise God for protecting me."

As I left, I thought of times others have helped me see the "bigger picture" in my spiritual journey. I'm convinced God means for us to be there for one another in ways beyond worshipping and Bible study together.

The author of Hebrews warns us of trying to make it alone:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. "Hebrews 10:25 King James Version

"Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:25 AMPLIFIED

I found a wonderful blog article by Alan Knox: He tells the God's truth beautifully on "being there for one another."

So, the opposite of "not forsaking" is "encouraging". This also is very important. The author wants the readers (and us) to think seriously about how to stimulate other believers toward "love and good deeds".

How does he expect us to do that? He does not want us to "forsake" our meeting together, but instead he wants us to encourage one another. Apparently, some were already "forsaking" their meeting together. (I have previously published an examination of this word "forsaking" in a post called "
Not Forsaking the Assembling of Ourselves Together". In that post, I argue that "not forsaking" means something like "not giving up your responsibilities".)

The author of Hebrews expects us to lead others toward a life of love and good deeds. In order to do this, he understands that we must encourage one another. Instead, he finds that some of the believers are giving up their responsibilities when they meet together. This could happen in several ways, at least two of which come to mind.

First, the believers could stop meeting together. If this happened, then they would not be able to carry out their responsibilities toward one another; they would not be able to encourage one another. They would be "forsaking" their meeting together. This is usually the only case that is considered, and it is usually assumed that this "meeting together" must be an official meeting (sometimes called "Sunday Morning Worship Service").

However, this is not what the text says. Instead, the author could have any meeting of believers in view. If the readers stopped meeting with other believers at all, then they could not encourage one another.

Second, the believers may have been meeting with one another, but they were neglecting their responsibilities toward one another. In this case, they were still guilty of "forsaking" their assembling together. In other words, attendance alone does not allow a believer to keep this command.

Meeting with other believers plus encouraging other believers is necessary to carry out the meaning of this passage.But, when we gather together, surely believers are encouraged even if we do nothing, right? Yes, but that is not the point here. Other believers may have drawn near to God, but that does not mean that I have. Other believers may be holding fast to the confession of faith, but it doesn't mean that I am.

Other believers may be thinking about others and how to stir up love and good deeds within them, but it doesn't mean that I do that.Just as the other commands are individual requirements ("draw near" and "hold fast"), so also this command is an individual requirement.Think about this carefully. If this examination is correct, then no group, church, leader, organization, pastor, preacher, etc. can carry out this requirement for you.

God expects each individual believer to build up other believers by thinking carefully about them and stirring up love and good deeds within them, by not neglecting their responsibilities when they meet, but by encouraging other believers.I am afraid that in many cases, believers have neglected this command, and have handed their responsibilities over to others. Many times, believers are happy to sit, sing, and listen, because they think they are obeying God by attending.

Is God interested in attendance? No more than he was interested in burnt offerings and sacrifice. God is interested in obedience.One more point before I finish. Notice that, in this passage, there is no particular meeting in view. This means that anytime believers get together, they have responsibilities toward one another... whether they are gathering officially on Sunday mornings, or whether they get together for coffee.

We must never neglect our responsibilities toward one another, but instead we must encourage one another.

1 comment:

Chatty Kelly said...

I couldn't do it alone. I need the encouragement of others and the helping me see the big picture.

What a lucky young man to have you as a mentor.

© 2008 Kay Martin

Thrive In Christ

Who I Am In Christ by Neil Anderson

For several months we will center on this book to pursue Thriving in our Christian journey.

Neil challenges us with: "Do you know who you are in God's eyes? We are no longer products of our past. We are primarily products of Christ's work on the cross. Who we are determines what we do.

You are not who you are in Christ because of the things you have done, you are in Christ because of what He has done. He died and rose again so that you and I could live in the FREEDOM of His love."

That's just the introduction. More to follow.