The Discipline of Community
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, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25
Paul tells us Christ died so that the Church could be holy by the washing of the word, without stain or wrinkle or blemish–holy and blameless. He tells us that we are children of the light where goodness, righteousness, and truth will abound, exposing all of the deeds of darkness. He tells us we should keep ourselves from sexual immorality, greed, and obscenity. He says to speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. He tells us to walk in the way of love, like Christ did, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Paul also tells us that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given to each one of us for the common good–that all of these gifts are useless if not enveloped in love, which is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not proud. Love that honors others and seeks the good of others. Love that is slow to anger and keeps no record of wrongs–it protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Love that never fails.
Peter tells us to love deeply and show hospitality to one another without complaining. We should use whatever gift we have to serve one another, so that God may be glorified.
But why all of this encouragement and love? Both of these New Testament writers tell us the Church will suffer. It will be for Christ’s sake, and it will be for our good–that we will become mature and complete, lacking nothing–but make no mistake about it, the Church will suffer. It will be painful, and we will grieve. Instead of losing hope or giving in to a life of sin and destruction, though, God asks us to persevere. Christ knows what it is to suffer–to be humiliated, to mourn, to lose, to watch people He loves destroy themselves–and He says, Come to me, and I will give you rest. So that we can keep going. He doesn’t say to pretend we aren’t suffering, He says that those who mourn, will be comforted.
We continue to gather together–to make friends with people who look and think and act differently than we do, to pray for and love people whose worship preference is different than ours, to encourage people who challenge the way we see the church–because we need one another to run this race. We need people depositing courage into our souls. We need people to hold us accountable for the mean things we say, or for the lies we tell. We need people to remind us of exactly who God is, because Satan is so eager to keep us bound by his lies.
We need fellow believers to remind us to remain in awe of God. We need them to remind us that we were once in darkness, but that we have been set free! We need people to spur us on towards thanksgiving, to rejoicing. We need them to lay hands on our sick children, to celebrate our hard-earned anniversaries, to weep with us over scary diagnoses, to chase after us when we’ve lost our way. We need people linking arms with us to serve the least of these, to set the captives free, to spend ourselves on behalf of the oppressed, and to work to share the Good News across the globe. This is the primary reason I need my Body & Soul sisters—why the ministry remains so important to my soul. We are training our bodies, yes, and Paul tells us that is of some value. But better than that, we are training our souls to hear from God—to be encouraged to just hold on, that the best is yet to come. To turn our faces towards heaven and praise the great I AM.
The Bible tells us all of these things, and the Church echoes it back and all around—God is good, and He sent His son, not to condemn the world, but to save it. We are His plan for salvation–the Church–flawed and broken and, often dysfunctional–but redeemed, and in the process of redemption, and looking forward to full redemption in the presence of our King.
So we make a habit, a discipline, of meeting together–corporately on Sundays, to work out together, to break bread at each other’s homes, to study God’s word together whenever and wherever we are, to serve our communities together, to celebrate joys and mourn losses together–we learn how to love one another the way Christ loved us so that everyone will know that we are His disciples. When we are filled with hope and love, the abundance will overflow into our communities and bring glory to the One who saves.
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:13
Brandi Schroeder is a youth pastor’s wife and the mom of four wild young men. She has been co-teaching Body & Soul Fitness with several amazing Arkansas’ instructors for nearly a decade, and she counts it a privilege to lead the amazing women in her class. She seeks to inspire women to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, and she is passionate about spreading the Gospel to the nations.
For more information or to find a class near you, please visit www.bodyandsoul.org.