Hope for Our Church – Pt. 2
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” vs. 24
Name That Accent
I had something interesting happen to me this week; I was speaking to someone and didn’t realize someone was listening. During a pause in our conversation, this person leaned over and said, “I think I know where you’re from, I recognize your accent.” I didn’t realize I had an accent but I played along and said, “OK, where do you think I am from.” They said, “You’re from Iowa, right?” I didn’t know that people from Iowa had a distinct accent. I said, “No, sorry, I am from the Bay Area.” They said, “No, you’re kidding, I would swear you’re from Iowa.”
So that got me thinking about accents and I though we might have a little fun today. I am going to put a sentence on the screen. I have 5 pieces of paper here with distinct accents. If I hand you a piece of paper, you say the line on the screen and we will try to guess what accent you are using.
German, French, Scottish, English, Australian
You know we make observations of people every day and we make assumptions about them; where they are from, what they do, their background, ancestry, etc. That’s what that lady did with me thinking I was from Iowa. What about being a Christian or a member of a church. Do you think you can determine that about someone based on their language, actions, mannerisms, etc..? how does this apply to us? Let’s look at this from what the author of Hebrews says in 10:19-25. If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word.
Read Passage – Hebrews 10:19-25
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.
Our ________ Mode
Did you know that we all have a default mode? We do. Our culture feeds it, our society feeds it, we are taught it by others and in our educational system, and it works pretty well in a lot of people. Our default mode is “Me.” It’s the mode that says I need to take care of myself first, I need to make sure I am always first and always the most important. It is stronger in some people and maybe less strong in others, but really, we all have this default. We default back to putting our self first, our needs first, and to make sure we are the top priority.
The author of Hebrews challenges this in us. He talks about our need to have a relationship with God and that our relationship with Him should take top priority and really, we are at our best when God is our default mode. This is true individually, but it is also true of the church as well, our church. If people were able to be identified as a member of a church, how would they identify us?
The Nature of Our Church
This really challenges us to consider who we are as a church and what people see in us when we say we are associated with Antioch Covenant Church. Form Hebrews 1-:19-25, let’s discover what the nature of our church, a church I am calling a church of hope, looks like. This is a two part series, this week and we will continue it next week.
Now when I say the “nature” of our church, I mean the traits that others see in us. To put this in context, think about our nature, our traits and how we approach life.
Ex. Some of us are positive, some negative; some are loud, some quiet; some are always happy, some more reflective, etc. It’s not that some are right and some are wrong, it’s more about how we are created and what traits we approach life with.
Well, church has traits/nature too. God has melded us together and we bring our nature to the world and to those we serve, those we love, and those we welcome here. The thing is that God, through Hebrews 10, tells us what some of the traits we are to have in order to be an effective witness for him.
The first trait that we are to have is we are to be considering. Before anything else, we are to think about things, ponder, and work things out in our mind. The author starts verse 24 this way:
“And let us consider…” vs. 24a
Life is busy, and life is full of things to do, work to be done, places to go, and in our world today, it just seems to keep getting more and more busy. But the author of Hebrews is telling us to slow down, take some time, think things out, and listen. It’s tough for us to be supportive and encouraging and to affirm others if we are moving so fast, responding so quickly, and so busy that we don’t take time to listen and consider what others are saying to us and what they’re going through.
Ex. Counseling. If you have ever been to a counselor, you’ll notice they take notes. Why would they do that? Because they are considering. They are not just listening to spout some response they learned in counseling classes, or so they can tell you their story, or so they can interject their story. They are pondering, considering. They want to think about what is best to help you. They want to help you get past your anxiety, struggle, or difficulty. They don’t want to miss what you are going through so they write it down so they don’t forget and so they can consider.
In a healthy Christian community, we’re all supposed to be doing that for each other. Not Taking notes, Ha! That would be weird. But it means when others are talking with us, confiding, and trying to work things through with us we take the time to listen, consider, and only when it is appropriate, we ask ourselves how we can help them grow and work through their struggles. It’s about them not you. We do that for each other and we do that with God as well. David says in Psalm 119:59:
“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.” Psalm 119:59
In this case David slowed down, considered what God is saying to us, and how we are to move into a deeper relationship with him.
So let’s approach this in two ways:
One, are we being good at considering others. Are we taking time to listen, consider, and looking for ways to help them.
Two, do you have people in your life that will do that for you?
The second trait that we are to have as a church is that we are to be “spurring.” Let’s continue with verse 24:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on…” vs. 24b
Circle the word “spur.” The word for spur here literally means “to irritate.” So get this, we are literally supposed to, actually commanded to, irritate each other. Some of you are thinking about someone who really irritates you, aren’t you? J This isn’t meaning we are supposed to bother each other and get others mad at us. It’s the idea that we challenge and push each other and in a good way. Solomon put it this way in Proverbs 27:17:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17
The way to help each other is to rub up against.
Ex. When I think about the idea of spurs I think of horses and those little things on the back of boots. Spurs are used to get a horse to move or walk or react a certain way. Here is a picture of one. Would you want to be kicked with that thing? NO! I don’t think horses like them either. They hurt.
Sometimes when we spur each other on, it might hurt. It might feel uncomfortable. But realize the goal. The goal is actually two-fold and it’s to do the things that Jesus commanded us to do.
I think the author of Hebrews had first-hand knowledge about Jesus and the things he said. These two things are things Jesus commanded us to do. The first command is to love. The author says “let us consider how we can spur each other on to love.” 1 John 3:23 says:
“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” I John 3:23
So where did Jesus give us this command? In John 13:34:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
The love Jesus is talking about is different than love the world gives. You can find places that love you or accept you, places like health clubs, bars, other groups, etc. As a church, we are different than those clubs. Why? Because our source of love is different. Our source of love is God. Notice Jesus says in that verse “as I have loved you.” Our love should look different and be different because we have been loved by God and then we understand what real love looks like. It’s not accepting everything and not having boundaries, because sometimes loving includes confronting. But we do love everyone because God loves them and Jesus loves them and he died for them too. Again, it’s a love that comes from God.
- _______ ________
Second, verse 24 of Hebrews 10 says “let us consider how we can spur each other on to love and good deeds. The natural response to the love that God give and instills in us is good deeds.
Ex. Claudia and sports
Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 5:16
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:16
And follow that up with 1 Peter 2:12:
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:12
Notice the focus of the good deeds, the focus is to glorify God. We want to be a church who does good things and that needs to be a trait of ours but not so that we get noticed or praised but so that God is glorified. Going back to my example of Claudia, she did those things because I love those things and because they are important to me. We respond with good deeds, things like helping Mission School, feeding the poor, helping the homeless, etc. because those are things that are important to God.
Jesus. He showed us the way in the way he lived here on earth. He did everything because of his love for us and to glorify God. But it didn’t stop there. He is still living it out today. He sits at the right hand of God interceding for us. He is still setting the example of love.