While it certainly is not a sin for Christians to socialize, Christian fellowship goes beyond mere socializing; it involves followers of Christ coming together face to face to talk with each other from their knowledge of and experience with God and His Word. With that working definition in mind, we are exploring why Christian fellowship is so important-it is vital for our spiritual growth and progress.
To introduce this truth, I have taken us to Hebrews 10:25-25 and Hebrews 3:12-14. In the last post we considered the role that we are to play in each other’s lives as it pertains to stimulating love and good works. In this post we will consider another essential role that we play for each other. Commenting on the passage, “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,” writer Paul David Tripp in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, observes an essential role that each of us play in each other’s lives in light of indwelling sin:
The writer of Hebrews directs us to the doctrine of indwelling sin. On the cross and in the resurrection Christ broke the power of sin over us, but the presence of sin remains. Sin is being eradicated within us, and this process will continue until we are sin-free. But while sin remains, we must remember that sin is deceitful. Sin blinds—and guess who gets blinded first? Me! I have no trouble seeing the sins of my family, but I can be astonished when mine are pointed out!
The reality of spiritual blindness has important implications for the Christian community. The Hebrews passage clearly teaches that personal insight is the product of community. I need you in order to really see and know myself. Otherwise I will listen to my own arguments, believe my own lies, and buy into my own delusions. My self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror.
As Christians who still have pockets of spiritual blindness, we need two character qualities. First, we need the loving courage of honesty. We need to love others more than we love ourselves, and so, with humble, patient love, help them to see what they need to see. Second, we need the thankful humility of approachability. We need to forsake defensiveness, be thankful that God has surrounded us with help, and be ready to receive it—every day!
Our battle against sin and unbelief is a community “one another” project. We need each other-not to rip one another apart but to enter into each other’s world to foster faith and attend to disbelief. Thus, relationships are vital for our spiritual growth and progress. While he believes in the primacy of preaching, John Piper, in a sermon from Hebrews 3, calls for the need of relationships to battle sin and foster faith in Christ as he states:
But preaching is not enough. God calls us into relationship with each other…. In other words perseverance in faith is a relational project. “Watch out for an unbelieving heart . . . encourage one another daily lest you be hardened.” Relationships are for faith-building and faith-preserving.