And 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.

Hebrews 10: 24, 25

 

It is easy to get distracted away from the things that really matter. These are busy days, and the times that we live in present a wide array of challenging and difficult decisions that demand attention throughout the day. No wonder that things of importance get pushed aside and are not granted the sort of contemplation and consideration that they should receive. This is particularly true when it comes to the way that we relate to one another in and around our family of faith, the church. This is a holy organism, a gathering of flesh and spirit that is formed up by Christ and that is bound together by His Spirit in ways that are timeless, mysterious, and that come straight out of the heart of God. So, giving real thought and attention to the way that we relate and interact in this environment and caring deeply about growing the relationships that we find here should be important to each of us who follow Christ.

 

The object of this prayerful thought, according to the author of Hebrews, is significant as well. We are told to be engaged in the process of encouragement and of support for others with a specific outcome in mind. The body of Christ is to be a gathering of people who stand apart from our world by virtue of the love that we share with each other and the love that we pour out into the world around us. It is also to be remarkable because of its seemingly relentless drive to do good in an environment where goodness is too often viewed as weakness. These redemptive attitudes of sacrifice and love do not happen on their own. They require us to surrender to Christ and to allow His Spirit full control over our hearts and minds and the decisions that we make about the conduct of life. This loving approach to the world is best engaged in within the context of other people who are likewise motivated and who will support this attitude and the actions that come out of it.

 

We need each other, and we thrive best when we are rooted and grounded in the company of other people who know Christ and who are willing to seek out His will and follow His lead in taking on the daily challenges that come to us because we live in a world that is rapidly traveling along a path toward its day of final judgement as Christ returns to reclaim all that seems lost and to renew Creation to its intended righteousness and glory. These are the times that we live in, and the body of Christ is the true family that can provide the support, encouragement, and guidance for each of us to live out Christ’s calling to love others, to do what is right and good in our world, and to bring the message of hope and salvation that is the great good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ into regular and routine contact with those around us.

If you are willing and obedient you shall eat the good of the land;

But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword;

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1: 19, 20

 

Life is filled with choices. Many of them have minimal impact on our lives and on those of others. Some can alter everything. We may not always think about this, but we do, in fact, choose the voices that we listen to when it comes to our foundational and fundamental moral and ethical basis for life. Each of us is shaped by the ideas that we allow into our minds. We are formed by the ways of thinking and processing information that we embrace. The basic allegiance of our hearts and the way that people view us is shaped by who and what we grant access to those hearts, and this is the most vital of all of our choices.

 

God wants us to take in His Word and to hear His voice above all else. There is nothing else; no other written source, no other speaker, and no interpretation of those truths; that can lead us to thinking and to acting as God calls His people to do. Everything else needs to be subordinated to God’s Word, and all that we do needs to be engaged with total commitment to obedience and submission to God’s will. Otherwise there are terrible consequences to be endured. God is gracious, forgiving, and patient, but He does call a stop to our deliberate and willful wandering. He will not allow us to live as a sinful and disobedient people in an unchecked manner. The Lord promises that there will be a day of judgment. He also tells us quite clearly that His justice and judgment will be poured out on this world before that day.

 

We get to make the choice. We can listen to God, obey His Word, and follow Christ. We can also turn up the volume on the voices of this world, plug in our headphones to conceal the noise that the sounds of oppression and death fill our air with, and we can allow our hearts to be infused with self-glorifying images and ideas. However, this later course is that of death. In it our souls are made lifeless, and our world losses the love, mercy, and righteous voice of one more of God’s people. Alternatively, we can choose to make our next breath one that is filled with the holy presence of the Lord, and we can take our next step in willing obedience to His perfect will. Christ is present, we must choose.