“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
Reading Hebrews 10 is like drinking from a firehose. Here Paul assures us that we can draw near to God with confidence because the Way was made possible through Christ’s death and resurrection. We are no longer guilty but cleansed and washed by blood and water. The Old Testament sacrificial system was a shadow of Christ’s atonement and could never take away sin. But God, from before the foundation of the world, provided all we need for life and Godliness. But, this promise was directed to a community of believers; a family of “brothers and sisters” in the faith, whom Paul assumed would read his letter as they gathered together as one body.
Therefore, we can conclude that community is an important part of our walk as believers. Without it we are prone to the harsh elements of this world as well as single-minded interpretations or conclusions based on our own feelings and experiences. To illustrate, this past January, after leaving a case of water in my car overnight in three-degree temperatures, I discovered that only two of the water bottles were frozen. Only two out of twenty-four froze because only two were separated from the rest. They had somehow popped loose of the plastic wrapping and were leaning out of the casing, no longer touching the other bottles. They froze because they lacked the insulation the “community” of water bottles offered. Disaffected, distanced and divided from the group, the water in the bottles hardened because they were vulnerable to the affects of the outside world just like the human heart.
In the same way, we can become cold and hard hearted when separated from a community of “brothers and sisters.” When our family first moved to New England from Oregon it took an entire year before I plugged in to a local church. During that time I was angry with God and felt sorry for myself. “What were You thinking moving us across the country without providing a church family?” My heart was hardened to God’s timing and sovereignty. However, not being connected to a community of believers allowed me to indulge in self-pity. Eventually, my jaded attitude led to a divine spanking in the form of a Poison Ivy rash all over my body, my very first EVER sinus infection because, what do you know, I’m allergic to New England, and finally, walking pneumonia with chest-burning coughing spells during the worst winter in who knows how long that included a Nor’easter which dumped three-feet of snow in one day. It does seem like God was trying to get my attention.
However, in God’s defense, He did provide a Mother’s of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS) group and a loving Christian neighbor. Unfortunately, I was too distracted by my expectations to notice His provision and chose to pop out of the plastic wrapping and freeze. Not only will I never forget this experience, I also share it with others in the event that they are tempted to “give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” Whether you are planning to move, taking a second job or just don’t want to commit to being a part of a church, I beg you to pause and consider the consequences. Don’t allow your heart to harden to God’s love for you which He demonstrated on the cross and is experienced through His church. You were made for community to “spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23). See you at church!
“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.”