As we kick off a new season of small group, we want to be encouraged from the “twin texts of fellowship” from Hebrews. The first text comes from Hebrews 10:24–25: “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.”
The remarkable thing here is not the summons to keep meeting together, but the instruction that when you do, look past your own nose to the needs of others. There’s no “how” here in the original language. A literal translation is: “Consider each other for love and good deeds.” Know each other. Get close. Stay close. Go deep. And consider particular persons, and interact with them, such that you exhort and inspire them to love and good deeds specifically fitting to their mix.
The second text comes from Hebrews 3:12–13: “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day … that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Here the charge lands not on the drifting saint to get himself back on the path, but on the others in the community—to have enough proximity to him, awareness of him, and regularity with him to spot the drift and war with him, for him, against sin. This means of grace, then, in such a circumstance, has a unique function in the Christian life. It is not laid on the spiritually weak to muster their will and do the discipline, but it is for the body to take up discipline on behalf of the wanderer, to mediate grace to the struggler, to pre-empt apostasy by putting words of truth and grace into his open ear hole and praying for the Spirit to make them live.
Fellowship may be the often forgotten middle child of the spiritual disciplines, but she may save your life in the dark night of your soul. As you pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and the Shepherd comforts you with his staff, you will discover that he has fashioned his people to act as his rod of rescue. When the desire to avail yourself to hear his voice (in the Word) has dried up, and when your spiritual energy to speak into his ear (in prayer) is gone, God sends his body to bring you back. It is typically not the wanderer’s own efforts that prompt his return to the fold, but his brothers’ (James 5:19–20), being to him a priceless means of God’s grace—the invaluable backstop.
It is not only God’s word and prayer that are the means of his ongoing grace, but true fellowship among those who have in common the one who is Grace incarnate (Titus 2:11). The grace of God cannot be quarantined to individuals. The healthy Christian, introverted or not, of whatever temperament, in whatever season, seeks not to minimize relationships with his fellows in Christ but maximize them.
God has given us each other in the church as an indispensable means of his divine favor. We are for each other an essential element of the good work God has begun in us and promises to bring to completion (Phil. 1:6). Such is true fellowship.
As we begin a new season of Life Groups, may we learn to fly in true fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.
* Adapted from David Mathis, Habits of Grace, 147-149
|Monday: Psalm 100||☐||Thursday: Psalm 103||☐|
|Tuesday: Psalm 101||☐||Friday: Psalm 104||☐|
|Wednesday: Psalm 102||☐||Saturday: Psalm 105||☐|