Monday, July 03, 2017

We need each other

Christians come together in Jerusalem / Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Hebrews 10:32-11:2

TO CHEW ON: “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated.” Hebrews 10:33

Today’s passage was written to first century Jewish Christians. From my Bible’s introduction:
“Apparently they expected Christ to return soon but the delay in His coming and the persecutions against them (Hebrews 10:32-34) caused them to wonder if they had made the right choice in becoming Christians… This epistle was written to wavering Jewish believers, encouraging them to stand fast in their faith” - Guy P. Duffield, “Introduction to Hebrews,” New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1728.

If we’re followers of history, we know that society’s attitude to Christianity, pro- and anti-, pendulums back and forth. In my growing up years, a generation or two after many European immigrants fled religious persecution to Canada as a place where they would be able to live their Christian convictions without fear of arrest, the attitude of society was much friendlier to Christianity than it is now.

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. For example, a bill was passed in Ontario in June 2017, that gives the state power to apprehend a child from parents who don’t support the notion that gender is fluid, and who would oppose their child’s “human right” to change gender.  And in Camrose Alberta, the school board is attempting to limit which Bible verses a Christian school can use.

Thus the scenario pictured by our reading, of Christians suffering and struggling grows more possible for us. Apparently for the Hebrew believers it wasn’t a struggle of just ideas either but a very real physical set-to, with “plundering of goods” added to “reproaches” and “tribulations.” And this could happen to one for being a companion (friend, known associate) of a despised Christian - Hebrews 10:33.

I love this quote found in The Christian Almanac:
“There is a spiritual cancer at work in the world. The piracy of man’s fallen nature invariably mitigates against freedom and justice. Therefore voluntary associations must needs balance us—without force of state but nonetheless with the force of community—and hold us to accounts” - James Stuart (1849-1901)” - The Christian Almanac, July 3rd entry, p. 393.

What both Hebrews and Mr. Stuart drive home to me is that community is important. We in the church need each other in these times of the world’s increasing hostility.

Dear Father, help me to remain loyal to You, Your word, and my Christian brothers and sisters. Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Thomas
Today is the day the church celebrates the Apostle Thomas. (This is a feast day that has two dates attached to it - July 3rd and December 21st).

The liturgy for this day begins with this prayer:

Everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas with firm and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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