Today’s verses come from Hebrews 10:19-25 –
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 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. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 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.
In the sermon on these verses I shared this quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.”
I have taught on this passage many times. I have preached this message until I’m blue in the face. I have talked about the dangers of allowing ourselves to be drawn into the system of the world which says “You have needs — satisfy them.” I have talked about the fact that the day is approaching quickly and we are supposed to be meeting together more and more regularly.
For some, I think it has helped. The problem is, they’re already the ones who are the most committed. And while it’s amazing to see anyone increase their commitment to God and His Church, I just don’t know how to help those who need to hear it most actually understand what it’s costing them and the body to neglect meeting together.
No, this isn’t a “poor me” devotional. I’m just being honest, I don’t know what else to say to help. We live in a busy world with an ever-increasing inundating amount of options of things we can do. We live in a status driven world. We are driven both by our social status and our social media status. We feel pressure to work more so we can keep up with the Jones’ and we feel pressure to commit ourselves and our families to more events, clubs, sports, camps, retreats, activities and so on.
I’ve taught about how the enemies two primary tactics: Ideas and isolation. Without even realizing it, we’re allowing the enemy to have a dominant influence in our lives under the guise of culture. We are being massively discipled by our culture through our devices. As David Kinnaman says in his book “Faith for Exiles”, screens disciple. We are being discipled by the devices we are consumed with. We aren’t the consumers we are being consumed. We are being harvested by big tech, being manipulated for bottom lines and taken advantage of for profit margins.
And we’ve bought the lie that it’s in our best interest, because “we have needs and we deserve to satisfy them. So we do. But it doesn’t satisfy. So we try another, and another and another. Still, we are left wanting. Until eventually we’re running ourselves ragged in pursuit of the utopia that is constantly being sold to us, only to realize the dark side is much worse than is ever portrayed.
Our time gets eaten up by the status monster. Once we’re spent, in debt trying to keep up with it all, having mortgaged not only our houses but our futures Big tech doesn’t even blip when we’re out. When we’re spent up, there’s not even a noticeable shift. Because we’re being consumed by the billions. World-wide, people are being consumed by Big Tech for the profit of people who don’t even allow their own kids to use the devices that have made them rich. We aren’t consumers. We’re the product. We’re being used to the advantage of billionaires and trillionaires.
And sitting there on the sidelines is your church. Whether you attend the church I pastor or another church, I can guarantee you the problem is the same. The mission God has given your church hasn’t changed since Jesus issued it. Make disciples. But how can we do that without commitment? I don’t know if you realize this, but the desire the church has for your time is not driven by the same thing that drives big tech. Big tech wants as much from you as they can muster. The Church wants God’s best for your life. From vs. for.
This is why I say: “We have to start saying no to other things so we can start saying yes to church things.” It’s not so we can get more people showing up to our events that we work hard to put on for the benefit of our church family. It’s not so we can brag about attendance numbers. The reason we, the pastors of your church want you to be at church is so you can become more like Christ.
God, though He could have chosen to use a thousand different ways has chosen to reveal himself in the context of Christian community. God has chosen to speak to us through others of us. God has chosen to use those on this journey to sharpen us. God has made us a family, but right now we’re a family that only sees each other on Christmas and Easter and when things in life aren’t going according to our plans.
The truth doesn’t change. “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.” How do you spur someone on that you never see. How do you encourage someone you’re never around?
The scary thought is that we’ve given up meeting together, not because of oppression and persecution like the Hebrews we’re experiencing. We’ve given up meeting together out of convenience and self-interested pursuit.
Pretty much all of what we do as a church depends on presence. We have to be with one another for discipleship to happen. We have to be with one another to encourage and spur one another on. With out presence, it’s nearly impossible to be sharpened by someone. And because we’re not around people enough to build a deep relationship with them when they do try to be the iron that sharpens us we get offended.
Dr. Suess wrote the words that have rung in my ears about the church. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not!” It’s also been said that you can see what you care about why what’s on your calendar and where you spend your money. Based on those metrics, how much do you care about the church? How much do you care about the body that Christ loved so much that he gave his life for it?
Ironically, either way we are being consumed. Either we’re consumed by our culture and it’s demands for our lives. Or we’re consumed by God and his desires. When we give in to one, our consummation ends in our death. When we give into other, our consummation leads to the life that is truly life.
So, my question is simple: What’s consuming you?