“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)
Ready or Not, Here It Comes
Life happens whether you’re ready for it or not. Kids get sick. Jobs change. Spouses fight. Finances ebb and flow. Cars break down. I suppose you get the idea.
It’s like Mr. Sinatra once sang, “That’s life.” And with it unfolding before us at what often feels like the speed of light, we can easily get consumed by it. Even as Christians, we become steered by the demands of our circumstances rather than by “the confession of our hope.” In fact, too often our current life situation dictates our emotions, dominates our thoughts, drives our conversations, and determines our behavior. As a result, we waver in regard to spiritual matters.
Such spiritual wavering is precisely what Moses warned Israel about when he said, “take care lest you forget the LORD” (Deut. 6:12). Moses understood that life happens. Moreover, he knew how forgetful the human heart can be concerning the things of God. Which is why he prescribed a pattern for faithful living:
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
Basically Moses is saying that, yes, life will happen; you can count on that. But it’s crucial that God’s people are bringing the faithfulness of Christ to bear upon their hearts in every conversation, every circumstance, every thought, and every deed. In other words, no part of life should be allowed to remain unaffected by a deep, abiding love for Him.
But this beckons a question, How does God make us into the kind of people who hold fast to our faithful Savior in all of life? To help answer that, I want to highlight one discipline that has been proven over and over again throughout the history of the church. It can make all the difference when observed in faith.
An Important Connecting Point
Hebrews 10:23-25 (quoted above) points out how God uses the discipline of gathering regularly with His people to safeguard us from wavering spiritually.
You see, the author of Hebrews provides us with an important connecting point between church and everyday life. According to him, we can’t live out the kind of life Moses prescribes in Deuteronomy 6 without the church. Our Enemy is too crafty, our hearts are too deceitful, and the world is too alluring for us to be able to heed Moses’s prescription on our own.
Therefore if we’re ever going to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,” we must regularly give and receive encouragement among our brothers and sisters in “the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).
I think Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it best when he wrote in his classic book Life Together,
A Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure.
Bonhoeffer went on to conclude that this reality “clarifies the goal of all Christian community: they meet one another as bringers of the message of salvation.” When life happens (and make no mistake; it’s always happening!), we need one another more than we realize. That’s what both the writer of Hebrews and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are trying to tell us.
Therefore we must not fail to realize that, through the church’s Gospel-saturated encouragement, God jumpstarts our hearts to love Jesus more faithfully in all of life. And that’s how we grow in our capacity to make every moment count for His glory. It’s how we hold fast to Him as our one and only hope in this life and in the life to come.
So let’s come to church this Sunday with a profound recognition of why it is we gather: to be that encouraging voice of Gospel sanity for one another amidst life’s unrelenting craziness. Lord knows we all need it.
Songs for Sunday, September 18, 2016:
Come Thou Fount
As performed by Page CXVI
Nothing But The Blood
As performed by Austin Stone Worship
This I Believe (The Creed)
As performed by Hillsong Worship
In Christ Alone
As performed by Keith & Kristyn Getty
All I Have Is Christ
As performed by Sovereign Grace Music