Earlier this year we were all shocked when COVID-19, a flu-like virus, spread around the globe creating a pandemic. We watched the news in horror as the number of deaths caused by the superbug rose. In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, government leaders ordered citywide lockdowns, preventing people from gathering and restricting families to their homes. One thing became clear as we were forced to separate: we missed each other. Soon, we all began to create ways of staying connected virtually.
We need and want to be with other. This week, we will discuss the importance of living out our salvation surrounded by Christian community.
Today’s reading comes from the book of Hebrews. The unidentified author of Hebrews addresses a group of believers, Jews and Gentiles, who are being pressured to follow the ways of Judaism. Through warnings and encouragement, the author makes the case for sticking with Jesus. The author also urges his readers to continue habit of assembling, a practice that some had neglected. It’s a serious warning during a serious time because of the pressure of apostasy, among other things. The author of Hebrews knew then what we know today. We are better together. As we’ve seen during the days of COVID-19, isolation can lead to loneliness, depression, and in the most extreme cases, death.
Jesus secured our salvation with his own blood. That means that we are more than just friends and even fellow believers. We are family—members of God’s own household. (Ephesians 2:19; 3:15). We are a beautiful, diverse family made up of people from varied backgrounds, ethnicities, and socioeconomic demographics. And in Christ, none of those things separate us. We are the individual members who make up the body of Christ. We are connected to each other, forever. Paul even says that we belong to one another (Romans 12:5).
God calls us to live out our salvation within the context of community. Getting plugged into a local church is about more than helping to complete some never-ending list of our spiritual chores. It’s a place of be- longing, a place that welcomes both the willing and the weary. The local church facilitates intimacy with God and his people through evangelism and discipleship.
Church is not a place where perfect people look down on less-than-perfect people. Rather the church is made up of people with deep pain and brokenness. We are those people, and we’re on this journey of faith together. As Paul says, we are to help one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). What does that help look like? Sometimes it looks like encouragement, sometimes mentorship. It even looks like correction. No matter what, it is all for our benefit and for our growth.