As believers in Jesus Christ we are in a New Covenant that provides us many blessings. Among those provisions we now have new purity (Heb 8:12), a new identity (Heb 8:10), have righteous inclinations (Jer 31:33) and new power to obey God (Eze 36:27). With the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of me I have an unlimited supply of wisdom, goodness and strength. So why then does the Bible strongly exhort me to be in close relationship with other believers? Dont I have everything I need with God? In todays passage in Hebrews we see that there is a new and living way, the New Covenant, in which we are assured to having a deeper and more intimate relationship with God as well as having an admonishment to walk in deeper relationships with others. The charge to spur each other on means that God desires our lives to connect with one another where we can be transformed and forever changed. The Bible commands us to be devoted to each other in love (Ro 12:10) and to be in relationship with each other. Christianity is not meant to be lived in isolation. Today we will look at Spiritual Community, where we can have deeper relationships with other believers, be loved unconditionally and be a part of a family who are growing and changing into the likeness of Christ.
And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (Heb 10:24)
The Greek word for one another is Allelon. It appears in the New Testament 100 times, 59 of those as a command. Some examples:
- love one another (Jn 13:35 - this command comes 16 times)
- be devoted to one another (Ro 12:10)
- live in harmony with one another (Ro 12:16)
- build up one another (Ro 14:19; 1Th 5:11)
- accept one another (Ro 15:7)
- admonish (warn, advise, urge) one another (Ro 15:14; Col 3:16)
- care for one another (1Co 12:25)
- bear burdens for one another (Gal 6:2)
- forgive one another (Eph 4:2, 32; Col 3:13)
- be patient with one another (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13)
- be kind and compassionate to one another (Eph 4:32)
- bear with one another (Col 3:13)
- teach one another (Col 3:16)
- comfort one another (1Th 4:18)
- encourage one another (Heb 3:13)
- clothe yourselves with humility towards one another (1Pe 5:5)
- pray for one another (Jas 5:16)
- confess our sins to one another (Jas 5:16)
We live in a community-starved world
Research shows that most Americans are lonely, especially in the big cities. Few people have someone they can truly confide in.
The worst disease in todays world is not leprosy or cancer: it is the feeling of being uncared for, unwanted, of being deserted and alone. Mother Theresa
The search for community is our cultures deepest longing and the Christian faiths greatest promise.
Spiritual Community is Christianitys answer to loneliness
A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn13:35).
Our Christ-like love for each other will communicate to a broken and lonely world that God sent His Son Jesus and that they too can have a relationship with Him.
What is Spiritual Community?
A place where people reach deep places in each others hearts that are not often easily reached.
A place where its members reach a sacred place of vulnerability and authenticity (being real).
A community that stirs an appetite for holy things and a movement towards God.
A place that enjoys safety with people instead of safety from people.
Where people have the integrity to be open, in which they feel safe to share their shortcomings and failures.
A community of people who know they are broken and that they cannot make it alone, who journey together with others where wounds and worries are visible, but are able to see beyond brokenness to something alive and good, something whole.
Community action words in Hebrews 10:24-25
- Stimulate: to incite, sharpen, stir up, provoke, spur on
- Love/agape: brotherly love, affection, good will, love and benevolence
- Encourage: to call to ones side, exhortation, comfort, instruction, to admonish, to strengthen, to teach
Stimulate, love and encourage each other
1. Receive forgiveness (Heb 10:22)
In the New Covenant a new purity is provided where we have complete and total forgiveness.
Spiritual Community is a safe place to be real (Jas 5:16).
Spiritual Community is a safe place to share the very bad in us and be met with love, in order to experience love and forgiveness in deeper and tangible ways and be healed.
2. Build trust (Heb 10:19)
There is confidence to enter Gods presence. I know I am forgiven and I realize that I can have a close relationship with Him.
God has a plan and purpose for my life (Jer 29:11).
In Spiritual Community we can have vision to see what God is doing in our lives as we trust Him together, especially in times of difficulty.
3. Foster growth (Heb 10:24)
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Prov 27:17).
Im encouraged to be teachable.
Spiritual Community encourages me to grow even if its going to be difficult.
4. Encourage each other in the Holy Spirit (Heb 10:25)
We need to stir up each others faith.
Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Mt 18:19-20)
In Spiritual Community we have the Holy Spirit. The gifts are available. We can pray and trust God to answer. We can encourage each other in spiritual gifts, prayer for healing, the prophetic, words of knowledge and wisdom.
The Holy Spirit has put resources within every Christian that, when released from one person and received into another, can promote substantial healing and change.
How to develop Spiritual Community
1. Pray Spiritual Community is always a miracle. It cannot be programmed into existence. Pray, wait on the Lord to show you with whom you should be in community. Seek counsel from a pastor or spiritual mentor for help or guidance.
2. Courage It takes courage to be transparent and honest as well as to care for others.
3. Commitment Be committed to personal holiness and having close spiritual relationships in your life.
4. Patience Close and deep relationships take time to develop.
5. Time Community needs to be prioritized in our busy schedules.