HEBREWS 10:24-25 – 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.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE DAMAGE IS CATASTROPHIC. Here is an understatement; the pandemic we are living in is a time of trial and fear. Every person knows this. Every person feels this. And every person experiences the consequences. One of the consequences we have yet to realize the extent of the damage is the social isolation. The reason for the damage is because we were never created to be isolated and alone. Alone time is good. Being alone is not. God created us social beings wired for relationships. To go against the created order never produces anything good. Yet, our focus today is on the catastrophic spiritual damage, yes, strong word, but catastrophic is fitting in describing what this pandemic may be doing to Christians.
Before we move on, I must confess this won’t be a “feel good nugget”, but it is a timely and needed nugget – a time to be what the Apostle Peter exhorts – Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded . . . (1 Peter 1:13). Life is serious. It only happens once. As Christians, we are here for God’s purposes regardless of circumstances, yes, regardless of this pandemic. Obedience to Him is paramount and must guide us in all things, not feelings or environments. The church, when being salt and light in its culture, has always endured persecution, pestilence, trials, and suffering. And today, we are enduing our season of suffering. The question is, “Are we still on mission, striving for obedience to all of God’s commands, despite events and environments?” Don’t gloss over the question. Be honest. Be thorough. Now the “painful” part of today’s nugget. As Christians, God mandates the Christian life be lived with other Christians centered on His Son, the Lord Jesus, His Word, prayer, and gospel service. Togetherness defines us. Separation destroys us. And here are two consequences of what isolation from other Christians will do.
First, spiritual isolation opens us to deception; by the devil and by ourselves. Why? We lose accountability. We lose the encouragement and discernment of life-on-life investments with other Christians. To live apart means we violate the commands of today’s scripture and not to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). Here is this deception. We justify disobedience to gather together. Consequences? When left alone, we miss God’s method for spiritual growth – togetherness. We also miss the love of family gatherings which keeps our hearts aglow with first love for Christ.
A second catastrophic spiritual consequence of living isolated from the body of Christ is the ease of developing lazy spiritual habits. We need each other to fuel and motivate spiritual discipline. Zeal for the Lord, His likeness, and His gospel is infectious and comes from togetherness. And when we are not together, our desire for the things of God begin to wane. We neglect Word, prayer, obedience, and sharing the Gospel. Soon habits form, bad spiritual habits begin to shape our lives. Sadly, it will cause professing Christians to drift away. Should this pandemic end, there will likely be those who never return to fellowship with other Christians in Word, prayer, corporate worship, and Gospel service because entrenched habits of spiritual laziness. Even more serious and sad is that professing Christians will believe it is okay to live isolated, or on the fringe of togetherness with other believers.
So, we do live in serious times, fearful times, and trying times. But remember, none of God’s commands are invalidated because of these times. Don’t go against God’s design for His people – togetherness. And here is an important thing to think about. If we have the ability to be with God’s people via modern means of communication, like Zoom prayer meetings, Zoom studies, and live-streamed services, and we neglect them, why are we? If we are, then our isolation has deadened our spiritual desire which reveals a backslidden condition requiring painful repentance to regain first love for the Lord Jesus.
PRAYER: “Father, protect me from isolating myself from Your people either out of fear, worldliness, or laziness.”
QUOTE: “The Christian life is never to be lived apart from God’s people. To do so, always brings spiritual consequences”