Growing up, I had an amazing group of friends. We lived in a small town and didn’t have to worry about some of the things we have to protect our kids from today. I used to ride bikes across town to go play at a friend’s house. In the summertime I went to the lake with my friends at our pleasure. There were days when I went fishing with my friends and even night fishing for catfish. And it wasn’t only summer activities. When winter came my friends and I loved being on the mountain and snowboarding all day long. We even planned snowboarding trips that we went on to other cities together.
So much of my childhood was defined by the friends I surrounded myself with. Friends teach us about ourselves. They push our limits at times and at times we push their limits. Through friendships we learn how to say, “I’m sorry” for making a bad decision. Our friends teach us about forgiveness and acceptance. We find comfort and security in the relationships we establish. My friends also challenged me. They challenged me to be a better person and less selfish. Even though most of my childhood friends didn’t love Jesus, they were great friends!
The benefits of being in a relationship far outweigh the negatives of not being in a relationship with others. Sure, it takes more time out of your busy schedule, but listen to what the Bible says about following Jesus with other people:
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 10:24-25The author of Hebrews gives some great points of application here for the body of Christ. The practicality of these verses requires us to think about how we are doing life with other people. Similar to a spur moving an animal, we can consider how to spur one another to love and good deeds. The aim is a careful consider of helping people follow Jesus.
When we do life with other people who love Jesus this is a natural outcome. I think it’s safe to say that each of us need more people in our lives who are being thoughtful in their approach to helping us follow Jesus.
The Greek text continues, and in verse 25 we see both a negative command and a positive command. First, we are commanded to not give up meeting together. The reason the negative is given is because some gave up meeting together. Some people put work, family and vacation above meeting with followers of Jesus. It’s not that work, family or vacation are bad, it is that we can’t place these things in a higher priority than God. I think we all need to take vacation and enjoy what God has created, but we just don’t let the aim of your life be about vacation. Make the aim of your life to honor God and do life with others.
The positive command the author gives to the believers is to encourage each other. One way to encourage each other meant they needed to gather together. The positive and negative command functioned in unity.
The early church didn’t have the means of communication that are afforded to us in our culture. They couldn’t text a friend and say, “I’m sick today, can you pray for me?” or “I need a ride to church, can you swing by on the donkey?” The communication methods were personal and required a person to show up. The value of doing life together was a huge part of the early church.
How does this apply to us? We need to do life in relationship like the early church did in Acts 2. We need to make this a priority in our lives. Recently studies show us that the average person goes to church two out of every five Sundays. I think we can do better. We can make our fellowship and worship together a high priority.
Then, when we gather let’s aim to be the most encouraging group of people around. Our core value states that Jesus established the church so we can encourage each other. There is something meaningful about doing life with others.
Spiritual growth doesn’t happen on accident. We grow spiritually intentionally. We grow spiritually by doing life with others.