It’s a funny thing that we are able to tell ourselves the truths of the faith anytime we want, but the same truth can be more effective when we hear it from the mouth of a friend. Maybe that’s one of the definitions of fellowship: It is the meeting of mutually Spirit-filled minds imparting mutual strengthening:
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them …” (Malachi 3:16).
I usually think of that benefit of fellowship as a bulwark against the grosser temptations of bitterness, greed, sexual immorality, doubt, and the like. And this is all true, of course:
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
But one of the causes of spiritual slippage that is rarely mentioned is not one of these, but is the ever crouching, under-the-radar, oppressiveness of the sheer ordinariness of life. In some ways, sudden crises are energizing. But there is no such intrinsic bonus in the moment-by-moment humdrum of our days. The greatest temptation for me is the appearance that nothing much is happening. This seems to be ideal campaigning weather for the devil to foster a cold and indifferent heart in me. What makes it particularly insidious is that I hardly notice the heights I have slipped from:
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen …” (Revelation 2:4-5).
The believers Jesus is gently warning in the Revelation verses above are from the best churches you have ever seen: full of good programs, known for good works in the community, not slipping in doctrinal purity (verses 2-3). But something about them has become rote and as if flying on autopilot. It’s like a marriage still going through the motions but has become mechanical.
That’s why it was so great to meet Kristen for coffee this morning. She seeks the Lord with all that is in her. She always has a new verse and insight from Him. She is in this existential relationship with God where she seeks to obey the Spirit’s every nudge and has learned to walk in the exhilarating insecurity (which is the only true security) of pinpoint obedience. People who live like that don’t find life dull and mundane but always an adventure, the adventure that naturally comes of constantly saying no to sin and yes to God. Who ever does that?
I hope you all have a friend like Kristen who dispels the oppression of the ordinary and rekindles something inside you. If you don’t, pray for one. It is essential.