Leaning In and Loving One Another
We are only a few days into this journey, and if you are like me, you are starting to feel a little constrained by all the new limitations that we are learning to live within. Knowing that we have a long road ahead of us, I am tempted to give in to anxiety and despair. I need you to remind me of God’s absolute sovereignty and goodness.
The good news is that pressing times and difficult circumstances are nothing new for the Church. In fact, God seems to do His most marvelous work in the darkest of places. The same God who raised Jesus from the grave and brings life from death will meet us in this trial too. This season will have challenges, for sure, but it will also have unique opportunities for us to love the Body of Christ as we walk by faith in the coming days.
As I thought about the challenges we face as the Church, Hebrews 10:23-25 came to mind:
“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.”
“Neglecting to meet together” seems like a forgone conclusion for us today. Love for the most vulnerable in our city and practical wisdom tells us to stay home. Can we really BE the church when separation seems inevitable? There must be another way. I think part of the answer lies in the word “neglect”. It communicates intention, a willful abandoning of the people of God. A distancing from the Church born from self-sufficiency. Other than this one prohibition, these verses give us many positive commands that take intentionality: hold fast, consider, stir up, encourage. If neglecting the body looks like leaning away, these verses are encouraging each of us to lean in.
We might face the temptation to turn inward, hunker down, and hibernate. We must make every intention not to neglect the body of Christ. Today, with help from technology like FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom to make video calls, and GroupMe, WhatsApp or BAND to share group messages, we can stay connected like never before. There is no substitute for picking up the phone and making a call or taking the time to write a letter. Whatever the method, our love for one another will be experienced through our intention.
The Apostle Paul wrote a large portion of our New Testament to churches he loved, but for one reason or another couldn’t see face to face. When I think how specifically and intentionally Paul sought to encourage, challenge, and build up these young churches, I ask myself what that type of pursuit might look like for you and me over the next few weeks. Let’s be a church compelled by the love of Christ to love one another well in these difficult days.
I look forward to being with you all soon and celebrating the kindness and faithfulness of our God together. Until then, I’ll leave you with these words from Paul:
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine." - Romans 1:8-12