|Dear Greenmonte Family,|
Over the past 6 weeks, God has been teaching me so much about following Him and walking in relationship with others (sort of a weird lesson in a time of social distancing). About four weeks ago, God told me to share some of it with you, but I have procrastinated, and I am sorry for that. As I prayed about it today, though I still felt it was relevant and that I still needed to write to you.
As many of you know, I work at Advancing Native Missions (ANM). Every Thursday we have a staff Bible study. At the beginning of April, the topic of the study was on community.
We were looking at Hebrews 10:19-25 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-17.
In Hebrews 10:19-25, I saw for the first time that this was a progression of steps to follow vs 4 random good ideas. As we walk through the progression, they connect to one another, seamlessly going from one to the other.
The series is:
1.) Draw near to God
2.) Hold unswervingly to the Hope we profess
3.) Consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds
4.) Meet together and encourage one another.
It all starts with a personal, one-on-one relationship with God. As we get to know God, we are cleansed, sanctified, made holy, reassured, given guidance, given understanding of the Scriptures, given perspective on how to interpret life, and so much more.
This "drawing near" is what enables us to hold unswervingly to the Hope we profess. It moves our faith from an experience to a firmly held belief. As we draw near to God, he gives us the faith and confidence to stand on His word, embrace the Gospel, and actually believe it and live out of it.
As we start to stand in this belief and live out of it, the writer of Hebrews says next to consider (actively think) about how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. To me that means the next step is to take it from a personal, individual relationship and actually start to share what we are learning and encourage one another forward in obedience.
Then we take it a step farther and start doing it corporately, by meeting together, encouraging one another, and living out our faith together.
To make this make a little more sense, hop over to 1 Corinthians 3:10-17. In this passage Paul is equating building a house to the church.
Now, when I read this passage before, I imagined it was like the 3 Little Pigs. Each of us was merrily building away with whatever material we thought was best. At the judgement, we would see whose house survived. But that is not what Paul is saying.
In verse 16, the Bible study teacher explained that the Greek word for "you" there was plural. In other words, "Don't you know that y'all are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in y'all?"
In this passage, Paul is describing that we are all building one building on a single foundation. How we build matters. It's like Nehemiah and the Israelites rebuilding the wall. Each person was responsible for his section. How well each person built (especially when no one was watching) determined how strong the wall would be. And how we encourage and spur one another on has a large part to play in that.
So back to Hebrews 10:19-25 - Christianity was meant to be collective. We do have personal relationships with God, but it wasn't meant to stay there. When God speaks to one, it is usually meant for the encouragement of all. That is why we must consider how to spur one another on, because what God tells us is meant for others too. Verse 25 speaks of meeting together corporately to encourage one another, but encourage one another with what? With what we learned while we drew near to God.
So Greenmonte, what God been teaching you lately?