“Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.” These are the lyrics from the hit TV Show, Cheers. “It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear, well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year. But, I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour. I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before. I’ll be there for you, ‘cause you’re there for me too.” And these are the lyrics from the hit TV Show, Friends. If you find yourself longing for more, consider engaging in Christian fellowship. In Hebrews 10:19-25, we see such a description.
As we study the Apostle Paul’s words, we notice his use of words like, “we,” “us,” and “our,” as a means of encouraging the community of believers. Living life with a community of believers essentially means having confidence, belief, and trust in the saving and transforming work of Jesus Christ. When I meet with persons searching for a church, they search for a sense of community, a place of belonging, to be accepted, and to be encouraged in their relationship with Christ. It’s important for Christians to have such a community, and more importantly, a community who draws near to God, holds onto hope, spurs one another on, and continues meeting together.
In Hebrews 10:22, Paul says, “draw near to God.” Do you have friends who invite you to “draw near to God?” and “with a sincere heart,” as the scripture says? As we long for more, rather than turning to any-one or any-thing else, we are to turn towards God, draw near to God, knowing that God draws near to us as well. Why? Because it is in Christ alone that we find our hope. Living in such fellowship, helps us to see that.
Paul continues in verse 23, saying, “Let us; hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Did you know that the symbol of hope is an anchor? An anchor is used to help a boat to keep from drifting away from where it needs to be. Christ is our anchor, our hope, in the midst of trials, hardship, pain, and suffering. Living in community, we’re encouraged to “hold unswervingly to the hope which we profess,” in Christ.
Moving on, in verse 24, Paul says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Can you imagine for a moment a cowboy on a horse with spurs on his boots? The purpose of those spurs is to get that horse going. The word “spur” here, has often been translated, “to provoke” or “stir-up.” The Apostle Paul is “provoking,” “stirring up,” and “spurring” the community onward towards “love and good deeds.” Some of us today might need a little “kick-in-the-rear” to get us back on track or to get going, if you know what I mean? Do you think that horse gets hurt when it gets kicked with that spur? A little bit, but with good reason. Though it may be a little uncomfortable for that horse, which was meant to run. Likewise, we too are meant to live an abundant life in Christ, we just need a little bit of “spurring-on” every so often. That’s living in holy Christian community and fellowship.
Once we’ve found such a community, we are meant to continue meeting together. The Apostle Paul says in verse 25, “let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” It takes discipline to meet together, to go to church on Sunday, to attend a small group, or to have that tough conversation of accountability with a Christian brother or sister. In the life of the early church, Christians “met together regularly, broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” (Acts 2) Each of us needs the community of faith we call the Church.
As you consider your own longings and desires, consider the relationships you are a part of. Who invites you to draw near to God? To hold onto hope? Encourages and spurs you on? And challenges you to stay connected to a community of faith? As you engage in such fellowship, be reminded that it is Christ alone who truly satisfies our deepest longing.
Rev. Mark Muckler is minister at Central United Methodist Church in Mount Airy.