I consider myself to be a pretty loyal person. I root for my favorite sports teams win or lose. I try to be a steady friend to others. And I will frequent favorite restaurants or stores that I like. But one thing I am not loyal towards is cable companies. I almost view it as a contest between me and the representative to see if I can get the best deal for the least amount of money. When I find a better deal elsewhere, I am out.
Unfortunately, I have found that our culture can at times treat church membership like a cable contract. I will be a member as long as you meet my demands and agree to my terms and conditions. But if I find a better deal elsewhere, sorry, I’m out. Now, I understand there can definitely be a situation in which the church begins to stray from Scripture leaving a person with no choice but to exit the community. But let’s be honest. Many people often leave over things less important things.
In Hebrews 13:1 – 3 we read of a call to recommit to brotherly love and hospitality within the church and within the community as a whole. This comes on the heels of the call to not forsake gathering together to encourage and support one another in the faith (Hebrews 10:24,25).
The author is writing into a context in which the Christian community was going through trials and persecution because of their faith. In addition, they were experiencing the normal wear and tear relationships can suffer over time. This resulted in a possible temptation of some of the members to give up on the community and withdraw their brotherly love and hospitality towards one another. And so, the author encourages them to not give up! Keep opening up your life to others. Keep loving one another as they have been loved by God. Keep opening up their homes and their resources to those in need. Sometimes the strongest desire to withdraw comes when you need community the most.
For us today these words continue to ring true. Being a part of a local church is not like a cable contract. It is like being adopted into a family. We are called to love one another and open up our lives to each other. Scripture calls us to a commitment that endures through the good and the bad. Difficulties and challenges do not mean it is time to abandon ship. Instead we must fight more for our community and for each other.
So, let us allow the words in Hebrews 10 and 13 to be an encouragement to us as well. Let us be sure to not neglect gathering together as the body of Christ. And let us approach this commitment to our local church as a commitment to family. May this be displayed in firm resolve to allow the trials and struggles of life to help us grow closer together instead of further apart.