Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV)

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. [13] But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Verse 12 and 13 are one statement. The point of verse 13 is to tell us how to have hearts that do not turn away from the living God. And how is that? By exhorting one another every day. The church is a community. It is a family. It is a body, building and bride. There is no picture of the church in the Bible that would allow us to portray it in a way that reflects the individualism of North American culture. The individualism is no doubt partly responsible for the lack of spirituality that exists in the church here.

We will not grow as believers if we do not use what God has given us to help us grow in the faith. He has given us the Scriptures. He has given us prayer. He has given us corporate life together. The church is a fellowship of people who need one another. It is not a denial of the work of God to say that we need other sinners saved by grace in order to be the people that God calls us to be.

God has designed us for fellowship with Him and with others. The “just Jesus and me” attitude that some people have is blatantly unbiblical. Maintaining that we do not need anything else but Jesus sounds spiritual but it is a thin disguise for lone ranger Christianity that cannot lead to true Christlikeness. If we are to grow more into the image of Christ it will only be because we obey Him in using what He says to use that will help us grow. That will mean some rather drastic changes in the way most people claiming to know Christ choose to live their lives.

But change is what the Gospel does and if we are unwilling to engage in it perhaps we need to consider whether we really have been contacted by the Gospel in the first place. Do we really want to be holy? Then let us work at becoming a community in the sense that the New Testament says we should.

The church is meant to be, at least in part, a mutual support society where followers of Christ can help one another without the fear of judgement and gossip and shock. It is one follower of Christ saying to another “come on, you can do this, you do not have to give in to this temptation” It is believers praying with and for one each other. It is knowing the sins that others struggle with and helping them overcome, talking to God about it and not talking to others.

Getting to this point requires some rather drastic commitment. It means someone has to be the first to go out on a limb and get the ball rolling. “Here is where I fear I may fall away from Christ. Will you help me?” Or, even more audaciously “Here is where I think you need some help.” It is shocking to even consider doing that because of the church culture which has developed in the west of stiff upper lip (English) and “pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps (American). And it is wrong. We need to stop living as if we were in complete control. God knows we are not and we should be willing to admit it in public. We can all say “I am a sinner”. But how many of us meet with others and say “Here is my sin, will you please help me and pray with me and I will do the same for you.”

Today, see to it that you do not have a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God – get together with some other believers and encourage one another.