By: Nick McDowell
My favorite time of the year is fall (I know that it’s the stereotypical favorite season, but I don’t care!). If you’ve seen the recent series of Dunkin’ commercials promoting their fall lineup of drinks, I am one of the people who will “Fall Hard.” I love bonfires, hiking in the woods, football, and all the ‘good-for-your-soul-but-not-for-your-health’ food that will be available. But what makes so many of those things enjoyable to me is sharing it with someone else. I can enjoy a bonfire by myself, but it tends to be better when I’ve got family and friends around me. I can enjoy a football game, but how much better is it when you’ve got your crew with you at Buffalo Wild Wings or you’re grilling out together? (and this is an introvert talking!)
I believe most experiences are better when we share them with others because God has created us to be in relationship with others. The author of the book of Hebrews emphasizes this need for community as it pertains to one’s walk with Christ. The author writes in Hebrews 10:23-25:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 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.”
Our church is currently gearing up for our fall Connect Groups, a time where several families open up their homes and host a group for several weeks. It provides opportunities for people to share their lives, share their hearts, and encourage one another. I know that for many of us life feels overwhelming, and making time to get together with others and specifically, spiritually-focused time with others, can seem to be just another thing to do. It can be easy to say no a few times, and we all need some alone time to recharge, but we must not make isolating ourselves from others (especially other Christians) a pattern. Notice that the author in the above passage says that those who gave up meeting together had made it a habit. Habits don’t form overnight, but it starts with one choice, followed by another, and so on. God wants our habits to be positive, formational, and life-giving. The truth is that a life of isolation does not help our walk with Christ.
When we gather together for weekly worship, it’s not meant to be a group of isolated individuals, but one body, The Church. An individual can never be The Church. It takes a group coming together with a like-minded purpose of loving God and loving others to truly be the Church. Life was meant to be shared with others and that includes sharing one’s relationship with Christ. Our lead pastor has a saying he shares often: “Our faith is personal, but it is never private.”
The author in Hebrews notes several things in this passage that truly require other brothers and sisters in Christ to be involved in our lives. How can we be spurred on toward loving others? How can we be moved toward good deeds? How can we encourage others and be encouraged? I don’t know about you, but very rarely have I ever committed to serving God in some way without at least a little bit of encouragement or loving accountability from someone else. We need that in our walk with Christ. We need to not give up meeting together with other believers. Whether that’s morning worship, a small group, a Bible Study, or a few people you meet with for accountability and sharing life’s burdens, keep gathering together!
Looking for connection? Check out ccnaz.org to find a connect group for fall 2022 or look into our Circles Discipleship.
Nick McDowell is the Associate Pastor at Countryside Church of the Nazarene in Lebanon, Ohio