As I write this note, it’s 50 degrees and raining. That’s not what we’d expect for a mid-winter day, but I’m not complaining. Typically, we would expect to be nestled away in our homes, hopefully insulated against the cold. As winter progresses, I would be surprised if we didn’t find ourselves dealing with snow and ice, but as that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised if we started isolating ourselves from one another.
It’s natural to avoid getting out and about when the weather makes it difficult and the season makes it uncomfortable, but we shouldn’t do it intentionally. While I wouldn’t want anyone to risk their health or safety to go to church or Bible study, I also wouldn’t downplay the importance of making the effort when we are able. It’s not a simple matter of keeping up attendance numbers; it’s a matter of maintaining spiritual health.
We’ve heard of Cabin Fever, that mental condition that forms when you just can’t get out of the house because of the weather. You get stir crazy looking at your own four walls day after day after day. You find that you have to get out just to get some fresh air or a change of scenery; otherwise, you just might lose it!
The same thing happens when we isolate ourselves from the church, and I don’t mean the building. The Bible gives us good evidence that people are better off together; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 tell us:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
While we often use those verses in the context of marriage and typically point to the inclusion of God as the third strand, there’s no denying that God intends for us to share life together and to help each other, especially when we’re tied together with God.
The writer of Hebrews gives us specific ways in which our shared faith helps us live in shared lives:
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 toward love and good deeds. 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. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Instead of being pushed around by life while we’re on our own, we hold on to our solid faith and our God who is faithful. We encourage each other to love one another. We push each other to do good deeds. We help each other to develop good spiritual habits and to grow in our faith as we look forward to Jesus’ return. As we encourage one another within the church, we begin to find the strength we need to struggle through everyday life together.
Don’t struggle through the cold and dark of life alone. Share your life – and your struggles – with your brothers and sisters in Christ and discover the strength God intended us to have together.