Mid Week Wake-Up, Jan. 25 2017
On Sunday morning I shared a story about a good friend whom I attended Bible college with and who then wandered away from the faith. I wrote about his story for a church news letter in July 2000. In thinking about the importance of fellowship I’ve reproduced the story here.
Some time ago we visited a number of old friends on a brief holiday. For one friend the only time he had free was at 10.30 p.m. after his work shift had finished. This friend had been a great encouragement to me as a young Christian. In order to be able to talk together we decided to go for a walk. It was dark, foggy, cold and wet and I think our walk went on to gone 1 a.m. But despite the weather this was one of those walks that seemed like a ten minute stroll because of the nature of our conversation.
After some casual chat, catching up with one another, I asked my friend how his relationship with the Lord was going. I was taken back by his response – things were awful. As we talked the picture became clearer.
My friend still went to church reasonably regularly, although his work did offer more opportunity for him to miss church services. But the reality was that my friend had wandered far from the Lord and, in fact, was beginning to question the reality of his faith altogether. He no longer spent any time reading his Bible and practically no time in prayer. The truth was that God didn’t really figure in my friends view of life at that time at all. This had been the situation for a long time.
What was really sad for me though was that nobody else really knew. You see, to the folk at church nobody really questioned my friend’s spiritual health. After all, he did turn up for church on a regular basis. He even came along to the prayer meeting occasionally. So then, everything must be O.K. – right? Wrong! No-one had taken the time to ask my friend how he was doing – spiritually speaking. Nobody had noticed my friends deteriorating spiritual health. What was even worse was that my friend didn’t really feel that he could speak to anybody about his situation. After all nobody ever asked him about such things – it’s not really the done thing is it? How sad!
Since that long talk with my friend I’ve spoken to a number of other Christians who are spiritually very low. But why is it that we don’t speak to one another more openly about such things? How is it that we think if somebody comes along to church regularly then they must be enjoying a close relationship with God? What stops us from initiating conversation about our relationships with God? After all, folk outside the church can’t be expected to check our spiritual pulse can they?
Of course some people might argue that this is really only the Pastor’s job. But is that right?
Doesn’t the Bible talk about the need to be encouraging one another and building each other up? (1 Thess 5:11). Aren’t we exhorted to encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of us may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness? (Heb 3:13) And aren’t we supposed to consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds? (Heb 10:24) Are we not instructed to not give up meeting together in order that we might encourage one another – and all the more as you see the day approaching? (Heb 10:25).
It seems to me that one of the primary reasons the New Testament church met together was to exercise just such a concern for one another. Perhaps we need to start thinking a little more carefully about what church life is really all about.
Of course, more informal meetings such as home groups might help – we hope to be starting new groups again soon. But isn’t something a little more needed?
When was the last time you got alongside a brother or sister in our church family to spend some quality time with them and ask them how their walk with the Lord is going?
That reminds me, I’ve not spoken to my friend recently – I better get in touch!