Cornerstone

“...A question I try to ask and answer each week is: How can I stir up someone in my community to love and good works and to encourage them towards Christ?”

Over the past few months my great-aunt-in-law, who is in her late eighties, has come over to visit our family a few times each week because she has dementia. There have been numerous visits where she has talked about her knee surgeries, which happened "the summer the Olympics took place somewhere in Europe" (because I got ACL surgery a few months ago and it’s one of the first things she notices upon arriving). One visit she told the story five times before the evening ended. But on occasion our conversations go deeper. More recently, when it was time to take her home, she told me, “Do you know what I hate most about going home? I don’t have any friends. There’s nobody that knows or understands me anymore.” 

I finished reading through Hebrews at the beginning of the year and have found myself coming back to Hebrews 10:24-25 over the past few months. It says, 

“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.” 

Like many of you, I am tired of staying home and not getting to see family and friends. As an extrovert (which may come as a surprise to some of you), I miss being with people. I miss being in a room full of people and having a conversation with a person or two while other conversations are happening around us. I miss having conversations as my children are playing in the background with other children. Even my kids miss people outside of our family. Each time we see someone on a walk they excitedly yell "Hi," wave, and ask what they’re doing. The author of Hebrews even exhorts his audience to not neglect meeting together. But we find ourselves in a unique time in human history where it can be more loving to not meet together in person for the health and safety of others. 

Thanks to technology, I am still able to stay connected to people. It is not ideal, but it fills a bit of the longing or scratches some of the itch. Community is meant to be lived out in person, not virtually. I believe one of the best examples of this is in John 1:18 which says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” John points out the fact that people in the Old Testament knew partial revelations about God but no one fully knew God as a friend knows a friend. In one verse, John explains how God gave us His presence in the person of Jesus Christ, that we might know Him and have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3). Until we are able to meet again in person, I long and patiently wait (though sometimes impatiently) for the time we can gather together in person and enjoy one another’s presence.

But there’s more to Hebrews 10:24-25 than the importance of meeting together. Just meeting together doesn’t necessarily build community. We are also exhorted to consider how to stir up one another to love and good works and encouraging one another. If you stop and think about those exhortations, they have something in common: they both require intentionality. We are not asked to stop and wait for someone to stir me up to love and good works or to be encouraged. We are asked to do this with one another. Specifically, we are exhorted to do these things within our Christian community. It is when we are with fellow believers that we are stirred to love and good works when if left alone we might not choose either of those. It is when we are with fellow believers that we are encouraged because we live in a world where it is very easy to be discouraged. To consider how to stir up one another to love and good works is an invitation to carefully think about what that would look like with the individuals in my community. It will not be the same for each person. God has created us all in His image and yet unique in personality, character, and history. It’s an invitation to be intentional with the community God has placed around me. Lord willing, those around me are doing the same thing so that we are encouraged, challenged, and edified for the glory of God together.

When we were still able to meet in person, my family would travel 30-45 minutes (a mere 5 miles) in rush hour traffic to meet with our community group each Wednesday night. There were weeks where it did not seem worth it for a myriad of reasons: traffic, how long it will take to find a parking spot, traveling during dinner time and close to bedtime with little kids, etc. But each week we would make the trek because it was good for our souls. We would be encouraged through fellowship with friends, we would be stirred to love and good works by our community, and we would get to reciprocate that. Paul writes in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interest of others.” Pursuing community with intentionality is a literal sacrifice in our city, but it's a sacrifice worth making. Community is where we are reminded of our identity in Christ. Community is where we can openly and vulnerably share our lives as they are so that others can encourage us, rebuke us, pray for us, and consider how to stir us up to love and good works. And community is where we can wrestle with the hardships of life and bear one another’s burdens.

While we aren’t able to do the things mentioned in Hebrews 10:24-25  in person, we can try to be creative during this season. If you’re not in a community group, I would recommend contacting Pastor Matt (cg@cornerstonewla.org) and seeing if there’s a community group you can get involved in during this season. Because we have three kids and life is all sorts of chaotic on a day to day basis, I try to be intentional with one to two people a week. Maybe there is a person who needs a video or phone call. Maybe there is someone who needs a text asking how he or she is doing. Or maybe you can text someone biblical truth that you know they need to hear to be encouraged, exhorted, or challenged. Whatever it may be, a question I try to ask and answer each week is: How can I stir up someone in my community to love and good works and to encourage them towards Christ?

More recently my great-aunt-in-law asked me if I knew how her mom and dad were doing. With sorrow I had to remind her that her mom and dad passed away decades ago. It broke my heart when she told me she had seen them last week and that they were doing well. The conversation quickly spiraled to how she wishes she wasn’t around anymore because she misses everyone. 

How do you salvage that moment? 

Led by the Spirit, I reminded her how much my kids love seeing her, doing art with her, and playing with her. I reminded her how much we love her and there will come a day when every tear will be wiped away, death shall be no more, neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, and we will get to see Jesus face to face in all of His glory and majesty. When she passes away, we will miss her; but we will also rejoice because she will get to be with Jesus. Community is an opportunity to remind others of whom they are being made into through the transformation of the Holy Spirit. It is also an opportunity for ourselves to be reminded of whom we are being made into through the transforming power of Jesus. So do this all the more, as you see the Day drawing near when we will get to see our Savior face to face.

Jason Jew

Jason is a member of Cornerstone and serves the church as a non-vocational elder.

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