Pastor's Pen

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” - Hebrews 10:24–25

During a time of turmoil, these words found their way onto parchment, ringing with the challenges of Jewish Christians amidst mounting societal animosity. With Jerusalem poised on the brink of a harrowing conflict, the urge to retreat into self-concern loomed large. Yet, against this instinct, the author urges a counterintuitive response: to extend thoughtfulness towards others, fostering a sense of collective unity.

The term "consider," holds a weighty meaning—more than a fleeting glance, it urges a deep engagement, a focused attention, more like fixing one's gaze or thoughts upon another. It's a call not merely to superficial acknowledgment but to a vigilant care for each other's well-being, particularly in spiritual matters. This is highlighted by the following instruction to "stir up love and good works," indicating a proactive involvement in nurturing one another's faith and encouraging a life of virtue. It involves a keen awareness of when love wanes and deeds falter, triggering action to renew fervor and perseverance. Indeed, this demands a deliberate commitment to actively support and uplift one another, personifying a shared dedication to the love of God and the perseverance of faith.

Paul echoes a similar sentiment in his letter to the Philippians, urging them to act not out of self-interest but with humility, considering others as more significant than themselves. This call to "count" involves a deliberate shift in perspective, prompting reflection on what is best for others.

Simple yet profound encouragement can stem from a straightforward message: "I just wanted you to know that you have been on my heart lately." Being considered by someone else carries the profound message that you are valued and acknowledged. This recognition holds significant weight—it affirms your importance and contributes to a sense of significance. And indeed, this recognition is immensely meaningful; it holds considerable importance in our lives.”

Numerous individuals, including many Christians, grapple with a sense of insignificance. They wrestle with feelings of being overlooked, believing their efforts lack significance and their pains go unnoticed. Even on a more mundane level, yet still crucial, some experience the sting of exclusion, feeling disregarded when it comes to invitations and inclusion. Sadly, for many Christians, there's a prevailing sense of being forgotten in the midst of it all. It's imperative that we address this. We are called to be considerate, to extend thoughtfulness and care. Such consideration serves as a powerful means of conveying the love of Christ. Allow me to offer some practical suggestions in this regard:

Hospitality holds a central place in the Christian ethos. It involves not only welcoming those who are familiar but extending warmth and openness to strangers. The term "hospitable" in the New Testament conveys the notion of being a lover of strangers—an expectation placed on every follower of Christ (1 Peter 4:9) and a prerequisite for those in leadership roles (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).

Whom do we invite into our homes? Is it limited to those who mirror our own experiences and backgrounds? However, if we truly consider one another, we won't limit our gatherings to a narrow circle. Instead, we'll embrace a broader spectrum of relationships. It's about inclusivity in our invitations.

So, when planning that Sunday lunch, think beyond your comfort zone. Consider inviting those who differ from you demographically. Whether you're single or married, young or old, injecting diversity into our gatherings enriches our communal experience. Embrace the opportunity to connect with individuals who bring varied perspectives and experiences to the table—it's how we foster genuine hospitality and deepen bonds within our Christian community. Very practically if you want some suggestions on people who could benefit from a show of hospitality of any kind in our church, click here.

Let's talk about celebrations—specifically, weddings and baby showers. Amidst life's hustle and bustle, it's easy to overlook these events. But when the church has the chance to lavish attention on a soon-to-be bride or share in the joy of a new addition to the family, it's worth taking notice. Consider what your presence means to them. If feasible, make the effort to support these special occasions.

Now, let's shift gears to a more somber topic: funerals. It is wise to participate in those moments that come around only once, like a funeral. Your fellow church member will lay their loved one to rest only once. Reflect on this, think of your brother or sister, and extend the effort to be present—even if your acquaintance with the grieving individual is minimal, or even non-existent.

Sure, it's not always feasible to attend every funeral. But if you can, ponder the message your presence conveys to your grieving sibling. I've witnessed firsthand the solace and support provided to a mourning spouse or child simply by the presence of others at a funeral. Let's prioritize considering one another in these moments.

In our gatherings, notice those who are quiet and to themselves. This doesn’t always mean they don’t want to talk, but rather some individuals long for contact and fellowship but struggle to ‘put themselves out there’, those who are strong in this way should consider how to reach out and draw others into the warmth of their relational world and the light of Christian fellowship.

In each scenario, the act of considering one another finds its practical expression in coming together. The author's concern extends beyond the confines of Sunday congregations; it encompasses the gathering of God's people wherever and whenever possible. This encompasses not only our church pews but also our dinner tables, where we share meals and fellowship; our baby showers, where we celebrate new beginnings; and even our funerals, where we mourn and honor those we've lost. In today's digital age, this gathering also extends to virtual spaces, connecting us through computers and smartphones. The essence remains the same: wherever and however we gather, the spirit of consideration and community prevails.

Before we conclude, it's crucial to recognize that considering one another operates as a two-way street. While it's vital to be mindful of others' commitments and limitations, we must also guard against becoming overly sensitive. Life is filled with demands, making it impossible to attend every event within our congregation. So, before we point fingers and feel neglected, let's pause and consider each other's circumstances.

By fostering this mutual understanding, we can cultivate a culture of love and service. Our church will not be perfect till it is in glory, and while we must strive toward that end as the church militant, we must renew our efforts to not be offended and not cause offense, that Christ will be honoured and that His church will grow in maturity.