Draw Near to God and to Others
Hebrews is helpful for anyone wanting to think about the importance of Church.
In Chapter 10 the author writes to Christians who were losing confidence – some were persecuted, some were leaving the faith to avoid suffering, and others were abandoning Christ because they wanted to fit in with the world around them. His advice? – draw near to God and draw near to others!
‘Since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful’ (Hebrews 10:21-23)
It is because of Jesus that the church even exists. He is the High Priest who by blood made it possible for sinners to be brought to God. The image here is of a washing. Those those sprinkled to be cleansed and those washed with pure water – they are the ones able to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. They are Christians. They are the church. They are the ones who live by faith.
That is not all. Alongside faith, there is also hope. Hebrews calls Christians to draw near to God and to do that by holding unswervingly to the hope they have in Jesus. There is a straight road, don’t ere to the left or the right, just look straight and go. By its very definition, hope stands before us, not behind – so press on in hope.
Christians should draw near to God in faith by pressing on with hope because of Jesus.
And there is more!
‘Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching’ (Hebrew 10:24-25)
Hebrews offers three tips here which help the Christian draw near to others.
First, spur one another on. Any horse rider would know how to spur on a horse. Gently, but firmly you spur them to move by giving them a nudge in the ribs with your heel. The aim here is never to harm the horse, but to urge them forward for your mutual benefit. So it is in a church family – never with the aim to cause harm, you spur others on towards love a good deeds. The result should be mutually beneficial.
Second, meet together. It is very difficult to spur others on if you are not there! Evidently that was a problem for the recipients of this letter. Habitually they missed opportunities to meet with one another and so the challenge is to instead make it a habit to meet together. I used to have a Bible Study Leader who would turn on his answering machine an hour before Bible Study – and the message was ‘Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing!’
Third, encourage one another. There is an end in view, it is the day that Jesus returns. It is a day when that which is wrong is made right, that which is tiresome will be lifted away, and that which is perfect will be experienced fully – but that day is not yet. As the tired athlete runs his race, so the Christian runs the race of faith. And as that athlete is buoyed when the crowd cheers for them, so is the Christian when their brothers and sisters encourage them along.
One of the benefits of being in a church family is that you can be a very real encouragement to others, and hopefully that is reciprocated.
In just a few verses Hebrews has offered the Christian a way to persevere – and it is not alone. Draw near to God, draw near to others. That is a Win, Win, Win!
For other articles in this series:
Belonging to Church (Part 1 of 5)
Membership (Part 2 of 5)
The Church – universal and local! (Part 3 of 5)
Draw Near to God and to Others (this one)
Core in Membership (Part 5 of 5)