Being at home surrounded by those that I love is a great pleasure and feeling. I also enjoy seeing my friends very much, spending time with them and looking after them and having a relationship with them. All my friends are not the same of course. There are some, who are my football friends; these are the people I play football with every Saturday. My good friends, this group is small but they are the people who are very close to me and who have been walking with me in the good times and not so good times. And like that there are some other friends you get the idea. The point is that in order for me to call them friends and to have a real friendship, I have to see them and spend time with them, even if that means once a year. In a few words, I have to make the effort and time to keep up with the relationship. Otherwise, they will be like many of my Facebook friends, better known as contacts, but people whom I don’t really talk to, the only way I know about their lives is because they publish it on facebook not because of me, but because they want to tell the world what they are up to.
“Lets us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of dong, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25.
As I mentioned earlier, in order to maintain a relationship with friends, family and others we need to spend time together and God is not any different. However, there is a huge misunderstanding among many. Many have come to think that in order to have a relationship with God they can get rid off everyone around them. For instance, it is very common to hear people say ‘if I want to speak to God I don’t need to go church’ or perhaps comments like this ‘I don’t need to go to church or meet with other Christians if I want to know God, I can do this from the privacy, and the comfort of my house.’
To such statements there could many answers. But lets pause for a moment and think. If, in order to keep a relationship with someone, all I need to do is to find something in common with that person. And then try to find things to do together, that can be eating, walking, or anything else, without a crowd necessarily, why then do I need a crowd or other people to have a relationship with God? As I said a moment ago there are many good answers to this question, but allow me to answer the question with four reasons why we should meet together as a way forward to this dilemma.
Strength comes from Numbers
Mr Bean has been a character that has always fascinated me, from my early days when I started to watch the short clips called Mr Bean I was drawn to the way he was a funny and excellent communicator. At the time speaking in English was far down on the things I wanted to do, or able to do. Nonetheless, that was not a problem when watching Mr Bean as he was capable of making me laugh without words, he was more or less a modern Charlie Chaplin and the silence movies. However, one of the things that I didn’t really like was the fact that he was very lonely and his only friend was a teddy bear. For all that I like Mr Bean and his show; I don’t think I would have been able to get here just with a teddy bear as a friend. My friends and family have been an important part in my life, not just to go through difficult times but to develop as a person.
In the same manner the first principle to ensure Spiritual growth is to establish strong relationships with other growing Christians. For instance if we take the analogy of the coals, we can see that the coals burn hotter and longer when piled together, in the same way Christians who join together in Spiritual Fellowship will stoke one another’s faith in God.
Sometime ago the service for the mobile phones call Blackberrys collapsed. This meant that the instant messaging services were down. For most teenagers, their life and relationships run through this ‘bb chat’ as is better know. They are always talking to someone on their phones. A joke came out that went something like this ‘the blackberry services collapse, and for the first time I had to put my face up, and see people face to face and speak to them and interact with them. It was horrible I thought it was the End of the World.’ For most of them it was funny, simply because it was true.
The passage we read earlier Hebrews 10:25 asks us to not give up meeting together but to encourage one another. Encourage means ‘to call alongside.’ In order to call alongside we need to engage with one another and to do that we need to meet together.
‘Do not be misled; bad company corrupt good characters’ 1 Corinthians 15:33
When I became a pastor I thought that in order to produce good sermons and keep up a fresh word from God all I needed was to lock myself away pray and read the Bible. But although it is necessary to practise such spiritual disciplines, another strong source of inspiration is other Christians. Especially listening to their experiences with God and the way God spoke to them through the scripture.
The majority of my folks at church would say that the mayor struggle in their spiritual life is the wrong influence and pressure that comes from outside. The Bible tells us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, God is in us, so by meeting with others in whom God lives give us the aroma of God and inspires us to continue this walk of faith.
‘Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.’ Galatians 6:1a
Have you ever found yourself in trouble and needing help, but unable to find someone to call? Nothing is more frustrating and dangerous! Like getting caught in a strong ocean current, Christians can find themselves being swept away by sin’s temptations. Fortunate is the Christian who has a spiritual friend who will not hesitate to jump in and rescue him from danger!
This passage uses the word gentle. Gentle is the translation of the same Greek word from which ‘meek’ is translated. A person who is ‘meek’ is one who is humble towards God. This humility comes from the realization that God is the Creator and we are simply His creation! This keeps us from the pride that would hinder us from helping the Christians caught in sin!
Therefore; meeting together is something that we should not give up but to encourage, because it is there that we are transformed by God and this is through the God that lives in your brother or your sister in Christ.