Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
These three verses are individually well known, but it just struck me how connected they are. Americans tend to be very individualistic, but this passage focuses on interconnectedness. For starters, the pronouns are all plural. We are all individually responsible and accountable before God, but we are members together of the one Body of Christ. The Bible knows nothing of “lone wolf” Christians! We together hold to hope in Christ, remembering that even though we are weak, the One in whom we hope is not, and He is indeed faithful. With that as our starting point, we are to be concerned with one another, helping each other live as the children of God that we are. We all can use a pat on the back – or a little lower down – at times! This is what Paul was talking about when he said, “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) Teaching is a pat on the back, admonishing is a whack on the seat! In order to do that, we need to get together. We gather to worship God, certainly, but we also gather for what has been called Body life. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment He was careful not to leave out what He called the second commandment. (Matthew 22:36-40) We are to love God with all that we are, but we must not forget to love our neighbor. That is at the core of this passage, and it needs to be at the foundation of our daily lives.
Left to myself, that’s how I like to be: left to myself. The Lord has had to work on me to get it through my head how interconnected I really am, and should be. As a pastor it has been a problem that I have seen the flock as needing me, without grasping how much I need them. I am not naturally a “social animal,” which is why the Lord paired me with a partner who has never met a stranger in her life. By her influence I am now reasonably social, and by my influence she now finds her way around a computer pretty well. We needed, and need, each other! On a lesser scale, but no less importantly, the different members of the Body of Christ complement and complete each other. One of my tasks as a pastor is to help people recognize that and receive one another, gifts, weaknesses and all. We are to be accepting of each other, but at the same time spurring one another on toward love and good deeds, as this passage says. Pastoral ministry can feel very much like herding cats, as the popular analogy says, but God will supply the necessary wisdom, patience, and everything else if I will trust Him and be obedient.
Father, I was wondering what I was supposed to speak on Sunday! Thank You for making it so clear, and for causing me to write so that I could pretty well preach from this directly. Guide me in laying it out in outline form so that I won’t miss anything You want me to say. May it be Your Word indeed, feeding the sheep what they need so that we may grow together to be the Body You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!