If you want to stay hot, get close to the flame
Posted on December 6, 2019 by Graeme Wilson in Freedom Fighters
“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 toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Though many believers today do not recognize the importance of fellowship or local church involvement, Christian fellowship is essential to spiritual growth. Many aspects of our spiritual lives depend on being together with other believers to encourage, grieve, celebrate, teach, serve, and share life together.
People need community, need to be a part of something. When you withdraw from something, it means you are losing interest. If you withdraw long enough, you will abandon a desire for that activity. On the other hand, when you are a part of a community, you are encouraged and motivated and excited to participate. This is precisely why we are told to meet regularly with other Christians.
I want to support this view from a book by socialists Peter Burger and Thomas Luckman as quoted by Tony Campolo: “…the only way for an individual to maintain beliefs contrary to the dominant culture is to be a part of a close-knit, counter-cultural support group they call a ‘plausibility structure,’ wherein members meet regularly to reinforce and revitalize one another’s beliefs and deconstruct all influences to the contrary. Within the group, they point out even convictions that might seem absurd to members of the dominant society, remain completely plausible, and in many cases virtually self-evident.” Thus, even sociology proves that the Bible is correct and that we need to “meet together”.
There are many ways to have community as Christians. The most obvious is the church. There are also small groups in homes, Bible study groups at church or other venues, coffee houses, various types of rallies (particularly youth), and even choosing our closest friends wisely. (I like to say, “walk with a skunk and smell like a skunk” or, “water seeks its own level”.) Involvement in these activities does not save (convert) you, but it does seem to save (keep) you. To say you “believe’ and are never with “believers” seems rather incongruent, does it not?
We must be careful that these occasions are not just social gatherings however; rather, that they in one form or another always is done in the context of Christian values and thoughts.
All of you know that I was in the Bible Conference/camping ministry for most of my adult life. This idea of community is a model for coming together with others of like-faith and conviction to be revitalized and recharged. It is time purposed to draw us closer to our Lord while set apart in a relaxed, vacation atmosphere.
Another reason we should be congregating together in some sort of planned structure is the issue of responding appropriately to the commands of scripture to care for the poor and disenfranchised. This does not have to be done through a formal church structure (including Sunday School class or Youth Group), but I am not aware of it being done through house
churches, home bible studies, etc. Church not only acquaints us with those opportunities at home and abroad but also has the best method of distributing the money, food, clothing, etc. Secular organizations have so many “in-house” costs and high executive salaries that much of your dollar never reaches those for whom it was intended. I would include in this responsibility such additional opportunities as the local rescue mission, pregnancy center, food bank, etc.
The organized church also gives the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of mission opportunities around the world. There are first-person reports, periodic updates as to the achievement of previous giving to various individuals, organizations or projects.
Going to church will never save your soul, but it may well save you from slipping and falling away from your faith or from abandoning your responsibility to the poor and neglected of society and the mission of reaching the world.
“To ensure that the self doesn’t shrink, to see that it holds on to its volume, memories have to be watered like potted flowers, and the watering calls for regular contact with the witnesses of the past, that is to say, with friends.” -Milan Kundera, Identity
Written By Neil Fichthorn: Rev. Neil Fichthorn is a seasoned conference and camping servant having served at Gull Lake Bible Conference, Sandy Cove Ministries as President, and an interim Executive Director at Pinebrook Bible Conference. He also served in church music for decades as a choir director and arranger. He has been Bill Welte’s mentor and friend for over 45 years.
Think About This: It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day. It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us… Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.” ~Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.