The message I gave yesterday is a call to the Church to live radically different in a way described in Hebrews 3:12-14. This text calls Christians to live in community with mutual accountability and mutual encouragement.
This message is a call to the Church to recognize that life together for believers should be marked by love, grace and mercy because “in his own body on the cross, Christ broke down the wall of hostility that separated us” (Ephesians 2:14, NLT).
Our life in community (horizontally) is based on the vertical reality that, “Christ reconciled us to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” (Ephesians 2:22, NLT). “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us” (Ephesians 2:18, NLT).
Why do we insist on resurrecting the hostility and giving it extended artificial life. It has been put to death! If we find ourselves struggling horizontally with relationships, we very likely need to increase our celebration and adoration of what Christ has done to give us shared reconciliation and access to God!
But life together is not without challenges from within and without. This is why we must “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Our nature and culture prefer privacy over transparency and accountability. And a Church that answers the call of Hebrews 3:12-13 risks the slide from needed accountability to deadly legalism. We are not called to “watch” each other as the pharisees did Jesus, but to watch out for one another. We dare not answer this call to spiritual watchfulness over others until we remove the logs from our own eyes. How else shall we see clearly to help our brothers? (see: Matthew 7:1-6). Those who self-check before watching or encouraging others are more likely to do the work with a spirit of meekness considering themselves lest they too be tempted (see: Galatians 6:1).