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    189
    CHURCH FAMILY: A DAILY NEED

    Fighting Off the Spiritual Stagnation of Solo Christianity

      "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first" (Heb.3:14)

    When a man receives Christ with all his heart, with real intention, for the first time he is fresh and confident. Some of the most memorable experiences we have are those which are experiences of contrast. A person who has lived in a dark dungeon half his life will, when released into the outside the world, will have a far better appreciation of the things around him than the man who simply ceases to notice his surroundings because they are the same day after day.

    To know the depths of sin, spiritual darkness and spiritual alienation from God -- to then be thrust into the brightness of His light, experience the forgiveness of sins and close fellowship with the Creator, is a wonderful thing indeed. I for one will never forget my born-again experience even though it is now nearly twenty years distant.

    When I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit I was a completely new person -- not transformed into perfection, but transformed into a new hope and confidence. Though na´ve, I could have "conquered the world", if conquering had merely been an inward process.

    One of the greatest dangers a Christian faces is stagnation. Because he is not renewed daily (2 Cor.4:16; Col.3:10) he gradually loses the fervour he had when he was converted. That need not be. The writer, in this passage to the Hebrews, reminds us that if we are to share in the glory of Christ in the resurrection then we should continue in the confidence we had when we were first born again. The implication is that that confidence should not disappear and that to retain it we must work for it.

    In the verses before the writer says: "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (vv.12-13).

    Do you see the recipe? Daily contact! Is it any wonder that we lose the Spirit's cutting edge when we meet only once a month or once a fortnight? Do you see the necessity for Christian communities? We need daily contact with one another "so that we may not be hardened by sin's deceitfulness".

    Isolation breeds deceitfulness. Without the contrast of one another we slowly start compromising with sin. We can't help it because it's in the flesh. We need daily encouragement too, a living, supporting Body. Even meeting once a week isn't enough, or even twice a week! Daily contact and ministry is required.

    We do not live in a Christian society. What percentage of a week do we spend in the company of the unredeemed, and what percentage do we spent with each other? If you convert it into figures, you will be shocked. Now I am not including personal family -- husband, wife or children -- that sort of contact creates an artificial reality based on either the head of the home or on the one who is home the most. It is all too easy to create an artificial world created by a collective family personality or by individuals within that family. What Christians need is a "family of families" -- lots of different families with different character traits, gifts, weaknesses, etc., because it is only in such diversity that we can obtain the contrast needed to really CHANGE.

    The world, it is true, provides us with necessary contrast too -- another reason for not being holed up and separated from the world all the time -- but that influence is mostly negative. As New Covenant Christians under covenant we have an obligation to lovingly address each others' faults and invest quality time building one another up. Coming together once a month, with minimal contact, just isn't enough. The Body in reality becomes many "family bodies". Struggling together is the only way to grow.

    Ask any soldier about comradeship and he will tell you that the friends made in war-time situations are life-time friendships. The hardship, mutual suffering and aid, and sacrifice bond them together. How much greater, then, is the bond between Christians who do the same for one another but with the added blessing of the presence of a living Saviour?! Incomparible!

    Therefore the challenge to gather together is more imperative than ever. The Pastors of the congregations this year have laid down some important challenges, and the greatest is to get into action in the missionary field and in weekly meetings. This is the first step towards vibrant Christian community -- dynamic community serving lost souls and building up those who are new in the faith. In doing this we will regain the confidence we had when we first received Christ, and more, becuase we will be daily renewed by the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, will we have a red-hot desire for Zion and our prayers will penetrate the heavens. Amen.

    This page was created on 31 May 1998
    Last updated on 31 May 1998

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