Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 I will give them hearts that recognize me as the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 24:7 (NLT)
19 We have, then, my friends, complete freedom to go into the Most Holy Place by means of the death of Jesus. 20 He opened for us a new way, a living way, through the curtain—that is, through his own body. 21 We have a great priest in charge of the house of God. 22 So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water. 23 Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep his promise. 24 Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. 25 Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer. Hebrews 10:19-25 (TEV)
409 “I was a guerrilla fighter,” he wrote, “and I moved around the hills, shooting whenever I wanted. But I thought I had better become a soldier, because I realised that wars are won more easily by organised armies and well-disciplined armies. A poor guerrilla fighter on his own cannot take whole cities, or conquer the world. I hung up my old musket—it was so out of date!—and now I am better armed. At the same time, I know that I can no longer lie down in the hills, under the shade of a tree, and dream about winning the war all on my own.” Blessed be the discipline and blessed be the unity of our Holy Mother the Church! (1)
I was asked this week, how do I respond to people who think that they can worship God all by themselves. It’s not the first time, people have asked that question of me. Apparently someone asked Pope Francis that earlier this week as well, as one of his tweets responded to such a question. He admitted that it was difficult, because people are sinners, and we can frustrate anger and even cause each other great anxiety. But it was, nevertheless necessary.
We know God because others who are part of the body of Christ have shared His love with us. No one comes to know Jesus, unless He is revealed to us by another. It could be parents, uncles or aunts, a friend, even someone we were interested in dating. But someone revealed to us the depth of God’s love for us.
The writer of Hebrews knows this all too well, as he begins to some up his letter, he address those who want to have some kind of individual relationship with God – where it is just God and them, at the beach, in the forest, on their motorcycle, playing their music, where ever. The argument is that the relationship could be purer, less restricted, less affected by hypocrisy, or their own inability to be patient and deal with others. But that presumes that the kind of relationship God has designed for each of us is one on one with Him. That we don’t need the encouragement of others, that those times where we stress, where we worry, where we hurt, are going to take away from our relationship with God, rather than intensify it, as we realize our need for God, to need to know His presence, His comfort, His peace. It
I love the quote from St. Josemaria, because it nails me to the cross. For years growing up, desiring to be a pastor, I thought about my winning the world for God, the great things I could do. I was the idyllic “guerrilla”, solider of the cross. There was a lot of encouragement for this, a naivete about the need for true fellowship – as working as one body in Christ. Of realizing what affects one believer affects us all, without regard to denomination or theology, or personal journey. It’s not about what I’ve chosen to believe, or you think in right.
Paul explains it well in his letter to the church in Ephesus,
3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. Ephesians 4:3-6 (NLT)
Our unity is not found in our diversity, but in Christ, in His revelation, in His Love. In what binds us together in His un-explainable peace.
That’s why we need to no abandon each other, finding reasons to walk alone.
It can’t be done. For God has designed us to be His people – together, and He comes to us to be our (together) God.
The strength we find in this, the peace, the encouragement, even in times of stress, of anxiety, of dealing with brokenness, of dealing with sin…
It’s why church and Bible study are important. Not to prove our holiness, but to encourage each other to remember we are holy, separated together for a relationship with Jesus Christ.
That’s the Church, simply put, His people….
Come and join us, as we walk with Christ, together.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1835-1841). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.