Joined in the Fire or Cooling on the Side

While watching a fire burn in our fireplace, I noticed a chunk of wood that fell to the side.  It was burning bright and hot when it was in the midst of the fire, but once it fell to the side, it was not long before the flames subsided.  In a relatively short time, the once hot burning piece of wood was smoldering with no flames and little heat being generated from it.  

I’m like that piece of wood.  When I’m in the midst of other believers who are on fire for the things of God, I tend to be fired up, so to speak.  When I fall to the side, my flame has a tendency to decrease, and I become cold and non-beneficial to the world around me.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we need each other.  We need to live connected with other followers of Christ.  It is essential to our spiritual health. We need times of corporate worship and times of small group discussions.  Hearing the Word taught, studying it individually, and studying with a few others are of great value. There is immeasurable richness in having a close friend that holds us accountable and encourages us in our faith.

Doing life together

Over 20 years ago, we were a part of a small group that came together in a very special way.  We truly lived life together. This group was even responsible for helping to name one of our daughters.  More than two decades later, we can get together with others from the group and feel as if hardly any time has passed at all.  The spiritual bond that was formed in those meetings continues today.

Not all small groups get to that level of connection, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for it.  In a small group setting, we are able to be more connected than in a large corporate gathering. We are able to care for each other in the daily reality of life.  

If you are not already a part of a small group of believers that meets together regularly, I encourage you to find a group.  It doesn’t have to be tied to a single church but can be a blend of people from your community. Yes, it may involve a risk to join, but it is well worth it when you experience the depth of connection possible.

Going bigger

There are different levels of togetherness.  I love small groups. There is an intimacy and level of care that isn’t present in large gatherings.  But we also need to have regular times of gathering with larger groups of Christians.

While the work of the ministry has us in a variety of churches throughout the year, we have a home church.  A place where we are known and know others. Where we are a part of the body and able to contribute as well as receive encouragement.  It’s not a perfect church (it has people in it after all), but it is an important part of our spiritual life.

Regardless of the style of worship gathering, there is energy and power when we gather in large groups.  Singing, corporately reading scripture, and reciting liturgy together in one accord is powerful. Remembering the Lord’s sacrifice for us by sharing communion with others has value in our spirits as we are joined with Him and His bride the Church.

We are also able to serve the Body of Christ by being a member of a local church body.  As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, we are all members of one body with different roles and talents.  The Body needs every one of us to be complete. When a Christian decides to go through life apart from the Church, not only do they miss out, the whole body suffers for lack of being complete with all of its members.

Being a part of a local church is not as much about you as it is about the Body.  Instead of asking what the church can offer you, ask what you can offer the church.  How can you serve the Lord by serving the church?  

Time set apart

Each of us has different levels of need for being with others and alone.  Also, how we spend our time alone will vary so it is important for me not to impose on you my style and vice versa.  God walks with us in the still and quiet as well as in the busy and chaotic. We need to be purposeful in spending time with Him apart from others without neglecting the gathering together with other believers.

It’s not uncommon for me to unwind by sitting and staring at a burning fire.  I also need time wandering in nature with my dog. These times of being apart from others and the chaos of life are vital to my emotional and spiritual health.  I often get to hear truths from the Lord in the process (for an example check out this post).  

I also need another man that knows me deeply and has permission to speak into my life.  It may be more formal as accountability partners or just a friend that is closer than a brother.  There is greater vulnerability and ability to grow when I walk in a relationship with another in this manner.  

Jump in the fire

Living the Christian life is fullest when we live it with others.  When joined in the fire with other believers, we will be stronger, and we will burn brighter for the world to see.

I encourage all believers to have a close friend that has permission to call them to accountability, to be a part of a small group of believers that live life together, and to be active members of a local church where they can worship corporately, as well as, serve the Body of Christ.  It’s not about one or the other, it’s best when we have all of the methods of togetherness.

“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.” 

Hebrews 10:24-25 
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