When I became a Christian, I was blessed to be part of a church which was highly encouraging, which looked to serve its community, and which sought to put new members into areas of ministry fitting their gifts and experience. As a result, I had a first-hand view of what a church should look like.
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. – Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV
First, note the reason the Church can act the way it should: Jesus. Our hope is in Him. Therefore, how we act, especially when we face opposition, is dependent on how trustworthy Christ is. We are reminded by the writer of Hebrews that Jesus is faithful. Therefore, we can act with confidence, without wavering, in the way in which we should. Keep in mind that when I say opposition, this isn’t necessarily by other people. Laziness, malaise, burnout, a lack of resources, and other things can be our opposition. Even in the face of these things, we should still act in a particular way. So how should we act?
We should consider how to stir one another in two areas: love and good works. When you consider the word for love here is “agapes” that makes a difference. This is the self-sacrificing, putting others first type of love. This is the type of love God demonstrates towards us. So as a Church, we should be spurring one another towards that self-sacrificing type of love. This isn’t just one to another. This is also to our world at large, hence the good deeds command.
We’re also to meet together. This is logical. How can I spur someone else on if I never interact with that person? I can’t. And we know that face-to-face works better than any other means. So gathering together is the best way to spur one another towards love and good deeds. We must meet together.
Finally, we’re supposed to encourage one another. While logically this also comes from the command to practice self-sacrificing love, it is explicitly stated because we all need encouragement. This isn’t to be neglected. We can’t get so caught up in things that we forget to encourage. So yes, we’re supposed to push each other forward. But we can’t forget to support one another in that effort. If I keep pressing someone else to do something, but I’m not there showing I’m supporting them and helping them when they feel down or worn out or unworthy of the task, then I’m doing it completely wrong.
This is what the Church should look like. Each individual church should act like this on the inside and should be this way towards the world outside the church. Let us be the Church that God desires us to be. The way the Church is like this is if our individual churches are like it first. And the way our individual churches are like what the writer of Hebrews described is if we are first that way as individuals. My challenge to us all this week is for us to be the people Hebrews 10:23-25 asks us to be.