It's an abiding memory from my early childhood. Every Saturday evening without fail they'd be there, gathered around a roaring fire in my grandparent's 'front room'. There would be Minnie and Meg, Ella, Bella and Teeny, as well as one or two others with names of similar ilk, all knitting ferociously and relentlessly. Only once in a while would they pause to glance at their respective patterns, as well as no doubt to catch breath as, in broad Scots, they'd put the world to rights with their couthy, homespun words of wisdom.
MADE FOR RELATIONSHIP
Now I'm not sure how many of this group would have been true followers of Jesus, in which case they may have been unaware of the fact that God has 'wired' us all for relationships... principally with Him and then with one another. Nevertheless, one thing is for sure, they certainly appreciated the warmth of each other's company!
Of course this is something of which we were deprived over more recent times. With COVID sweeping the land the governing authorities had to clamp down on social interaction. And this included those of us who are Jesus followers, denying us the opportunity to meet together in worship and Christian fellowship. But of course at first glance this seems to have cut across an important Scriptural imperative...
'Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us
encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching.'
So in complying with the directions of the secular authorities, were we disobeying the Lord? Well, when this particular verse is seen in its wider context, I don't believe so. This is because 'meeting together' is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end... in other words, it's the servant, not the master. Meeting together is the 'vehicle' through which God's call to perseverance can be most effectively achieved...
'As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.'
And just how much more did we all need one another during these challenging times! Surely this was borne out by the way the masses clamoured for the pubs – the secular substitute for the church – to re-open after lockdown restrictions were relaxed.
WIRED FOR COMMUNITY
In the course of my social work training we were taught that one of mankind's (or should it be personkind's) basic needs is a 'sense of belonging' through which we can all receive love, support and encouragement. And this has always been true in my experience... though this is not a 'one-way street'. In fact, I've probably RECEIVED more encouragement when I've tried to GIVE encouragement to others. But then, isn't this just how the Lord works... it's as we give that we receive... and surely this is all the more important as we try to press on in our journey of faith. Yet could there be a greater sense of belonging for us when we realise that if we're true believers then we're part of His eternal family... the family of God?
'Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.'
What a wonderful privilege, meeting together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet what an awesome, and delightful, responsibility!