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We get our share of storms where we live, and we've got our share of trees. So, you can probably figure out the rest. After almost every storm, I make the rounds in the yard, and pick up the souvenirs the storm left behind. I haul all those downed branches to my special brush pile place even if they've still got leaves on them. Look, even if I am a city boy, I know there's no use planting those branches in the ground and hoping they'll grow more leaves. In fact, those leaves they have are soon going to fall off. As soon as the branch gets separated from the tree, it starts dying.

Branches are built to be attached, and they start dying when they're not. Actually, believers in Jesus Christ are built to be attached to His Body which He called the church. And when they're not, they start dying.

It could be that a storm came along and you ended up disconnected from the life of the church, and you haven't really reconnected. Our word for today from the Word of God explains the importance that Jesus places on our staying connected to our spiritual family. In Hebrews 10:23, He calls us to "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess." In other words, take no detours spiritually.

Apparently, He doesn't want us to try that while being spiritual "Lone Rangers." Because He says, "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." In a church family, there's accountability to other believers, not just each of us doing what we feel is right. We see the ways that others are loving, the way others are serving Jesus, and it "spurs us on," like the Bible says, to do the same thing.

So, as the passage continues, "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." In other words, the closer we get to Jesus coming back, the more important it is that we stick together, partly because it's going to get harder and harder to know the right thing and do the right thing. We can help each other with that.

Obviously, God intended for following Jesus to be a team sport. But maybe you've distanced yourself from the team and you're trying to make it a solo sport. It doesn't work that way. Jesus set up His church as the place where you can worship Him with your spiritual family, where you can serve Him, where you participate in spiritual obediences like communion and baptism, where you get to know people that you need and meet people who need you.

Maybe you've been hurt by fellow believers, you're disillusioned, maybe even embittered. But you can't just stay there. You may find a different body of believers to be a part of, but not being a part of one is just not an option for a disciple who claims to be following Christ. If your eyes have been on people, on your wounds, or on the things that are wrong with a church, you might even tend to directly disobey our Lord and "give up the habit of meeting together."

The church isn't perfect because it's full of spiritual caterpillars who, just like you and me, are half caterpillar and on their way to becoming butterflies. The Church is what Jesus has chosen to work through on earth. He has said, "I will build My church." You can't remain a disconnected branch, no matter how bad the storm was. The church of Jesus is your spiritual home on earth. If you've been away, maybe it's time to come home.

 

© Ronald P. Hutchcraft 2019

 

 

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