by Julie Coleman
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB
It might not be a great idea in June, but I love a warm fire on a cold winter’s night. My husband Steve is an excellent fire-builder. He often makes a nice crackling fire for me when we relax in the evenings or entertain guests during the cold winter months. But inevitably, when Steve leaves the room for more than a few minutes, his roaring blaze begins to sputter and die. It’s not for lack of effort on my part; I add new logs and juggle what is already burning to the best of my ability. But in the end, I prove inadequate for the job.
I finally asked Steve: “What am I doing wrong?”
He informed me I was mistaken about the logistics of a fire. I thought that the logs should be separated, to allow a free flow of oxygen. Big mistake. To keep a fire going, the logs must remain in close proximity to each other. When the pieces are separated, the fire will quickly die out.
What I learned that night became a metaphor for another kind of struggle I was having. I had been deeply offended by someone at our church. And rather than continuing to struggle with the blinding anger I was feeling, in my heart, I yearned to walk away from the community.
The problem is we are not created to go it alone. There is a reason the writer of Hebrews admonished his readers to “not give up meeting together…” Simply put, we need each other.
Even the Son of God felt a need for fellowship. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He begged His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
We are created for community. This is most evident in the Spirit’s distribution of spiritual gifts. We have received differing abilities, which, when combined, make us a complete and effective entity. Another benefit of community is in the potential perspective and wisdom available from those traveling the same road. Spending time worshipping and praying together flares our spiritual fire as well. Fellowship is as vital to spiritual health as food is to our physical bodies.
Seeing those logs burn brightly together gave me resolve to work out my differences with that offending person. We are commissioned to be lights in the darkness. That light will be exponentially brighter when we choose to join forces with like minds. Though our fellowship may be imperfect, and even at times undesirable, in the end as we persevere in our relationships and work through our differences, the reward will be great. We are meant for community.
About the author: Julie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Her award-winning book, Unexpected Love: God’s Heart Revealed through Jesus’ Conversations with Women, was published in 2013 by Thomas Nelson. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
Join the conversation: What benefits have you experienced through the fellowship of fellow believers?