BIBLICAL COMMUNITY and MISSION
What The Corona Virus Is Teaching The Church
Dan O’Deens / May 25, 2020
“Not Giving Up Meeting Together” – HEBREWS 10:25 (In Context)
v.19 ‘brothers and sisters, we have confidence to enter the Most Holy place by the blood of Jesus’
When Jesus breathed his last and said it is finished, the veil in the temple was torn in two. No longer the day when a ‘priest’ was needed to represent us to God or God to us. Every person who will place their faith and trust in Jesus, the Son of God, will forever more have direct access to God himself.
v.20 ‘by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body.’
Jesus ushers in a new day and a new way. The body of believers could now come together in a new way. The head of the Church and the body is Jesus. He is the creator and savior. He is the author and finisher of our faith and He is our spiritual family.
v.21 ‘ and since we have a great high priest over the house of God.’
Jesus is the great High Priest and He chooses to share that role with His followers. He tells us that we are now a ‘royal priesthood’ ‘ But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9’ We, the followers of Jesus, have been called out to live our lives separate from the world. Separate does not mean isolated, it means different.
In Jesus’ prayer in John 17, Jesus gives us a picture of His desire. He prays to His Father and pleads that we not be taken out of the world, but that we be protected from the evil one.
And then Jesus prays, “Sanctify” them, meaning, set them apart by your WORD, both written and living. “As you sent me into the world, I have sent ‘them’ into the world. It is here that we begin to understand that for the followers of Jesus the word ‘gather’ would include the concept of primarily being ‘sent.’ Jesus prays that all believers would be unified and that the Father be glorified. That Christians be unified and the Father be glorified will only happen when the demonstration of God’s love is shared one to another and to those who are ‘not’ like us.
v.22 ‘let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…’
Faith is the essence of things unknown. It is a recognition that there is a God and an understanding that I am utterly dependent upon Him. A true believer’s heart draws near to the Creator even where the clear path forward is not yet visible.
v.23 ‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promises is faithful.’
No need for confusion or flippancy. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He alone is our ‘anchor’ in any troubled storm. Hope is connected to faith. And the one who promises hope is always faithful. ‘For I am the Lord your God who is holding your right hand saying unto you, FEAR NOT, For I am with you. Isaiah 41:13
v.24 ‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.’
The men of Issachar were wise, because they understood the times in which they lived. 2020 has been a year that has changed the landscape of the Church worldwide. To be wise in Jesus today is to consider how we will spur ‘one another’ (lots of good ‘one another’s’ recorded by Jesus) on toward ‘love and good deeds.’
v.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.’
The word forsaken clearly is not addressing an inability to ‘gather.’ The exhortation is to a person who has willfully chosen the path of desertion and has abandoned their church family. The book of Hebrews speaks several times of ‘falling away.’
The Corona Virus is far from this teaching. We aren’t talking about people who are far from the Lord. It is fair to say that most believers are longing for the day when we can again worship the Lord in the same space.
The Church is neither a building or a program, it is a family and a, body. Through technology we are learning creative ways to ‘be together.’ We have learned that we the Body of Christ can be a family and stay connected even though temporarily inconvenienced to not be ‘with’ those we love.
“The church is the presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family, to pursue His mission on this planet.”
Think again of Jesus, sent on mission from the Father. The mission of Jesus is the Church, Jesus gave His life for the Church. He chose to render to Caesar what was due him and to His Father what was due him. He would not allow others to tip his hand to one or the other.
In other words of wisdom Scriptures teach us that there is ‘wisdom’ in many counselors. Seek wise counsel. Be like the Berean’s who filtered ideas through His Word. His Word does not address the Corona Virus. But ‘the WORD’ lives inside of us and dwells in our hearts.
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 is a model for each of us who call ourselves Christians. In v.14, we ‘humbly’ bow our knee to the Father. We recognize in these difficult times our dependence on Him. In v.16 we pray for strength that comes from an intestinal fortitude in our inner being, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit…the Spirit of Jesus. In v.17 we invited Jesus to take up residency in our heart, (not our buildings) through faith. And then finally in v.19 we comprehend the depth of the Father’s love to each of His children. God paints the picture of a healthy Christ follower, from the knees, to the gut, to the heart, to the mind…The WHOLE measure of God to the whole man.
Might God be showing the Church something new?
The ‘great leadership’ of our Pastors is not in question. They serve us well. God has a plan for man. In Israel, Moses was the leader…then he died. The words in Scripture remind us clearly and absolves every pastor/leader of any ‘savior complex.’ “Moses my servant is dead, …now then.” NEXT…
The High Priest served their purposes for that time. Then Jesus said, it is finished. The curtain was torn, and all believers now have direct access to the Holy One and to One Another. What historically took us into the ‘dark ages’ was when common man was stripped of holding the Bible and told that a ‘priest’ would tell them what the Bible says and what to do. The Bible was given to all believers. Let’s not recycle history. God never intended that a very select few become the ‘ministers.’ The Pastors are the administrators…the people of God are the ministers, ordinary members doing the mission of Jesus in the world while not being a part of the world. In it, not of it.
The time is NOW for the people of God to come together but not to re-organize around a building or program but to take serious the Command of Jesus to Love God, to love our neighbor and to love ourselves AND to the Commission of Jesus, to GO into all the world and tell everyone, everywhere the Good news about Jesus.
The time is NOW for the people of God to embrace His goodness in the great requirement…to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. “How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony and unity.” Psalm 133:1
Together. Together we are the Body of Christ. We are a family. In this world there is sickness and disease, trouble and persecution, but take heart. Jesus has overcome the world. Hebrews 11 is a ‘hallmark of faith’ for the many who gave their lives for Jesus. The hope was yet to come. That hope and promise is now realized in the person of Jesus for all those who will place their faith in Him.
“GOD had planned ‘SOMETHING BETTER’ for us, so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:40
The Time is NOW for every ordinary member in the family of God to be on mission!