It never ceases to amaze me how much family really means to us. Sometimes, it takes some absence to make us realize what we really have or are missing. The old adage often rings true: "absence makes the heart grow fonder;" but, only when there was a fondness to be missed. To me, it has become sweeter through the years to have my family closer to me, and I wonder if there is not a spiritual application to be seen in that. It seems that it is easier to be with family the more that we are with our families. We continue to grow in love toward each other.
It has been the case lately that as I study more about the family of God, I realize that it is much better for the family of God to be together than apart. The Hebrew's author wrote:
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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." (Hebrews 10:19-25, ESV)
The idea that "closeness" not absence causes the heart to grow fonder may be more appropriate and truthful.
Consider the following words and phrases from the text highlighted above:
- “enter” - We enter into the church by the blood of Jesus who was sacrificed as our High Priest.
- “draw near” - We are admonished to draw near to Him with a true heart, having been washed (cleansed) by faith and baptism.
- “hold fast” - Cling to or hold close to the confession of our hope without doubting.
- “stir up one another” - Provoke one another to greater things like love and good works.
- “not neglecting to meet together” - This is where those who have entered in, drawn near, holding fast, and stirring one another have the opportunity to finally be close together in an assembly of a family worshipping together.
- “encouraging one another” - An amazing and needed result of such closeness and assembling together is the wonderful encouragement reciprocated to each other on each occasion we come together.
I have noticed over this last year especially that each time the church comes together, whether at worship services, fellowship meals, church outings, hospital visits, in-home visits, etc., we grow closer and closer with each other and with God as a result of our mutual encouragement and provoking. When we apply verse 24, verse 25 is never a problem for those who love the Lord and each other.
Consider also 1 John 4:7-12, ESV:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”
May we ever be drawn closer together with one another and to Him who first loved us.