My dear husband went out mowing yesterday in late afternoon. The sun was waning, and I was surprised to see him go out at this time. As darkness began to creep across the landscape, I looked out the window to see my air-inflated Christmas tree leaning to one side. I asked my husband how it became crooked. However, he had no idea. He said he had tried to straighten it to no avail.
Following church today, I went to inspect my poor inflatable tree. Instantly, I could tell what had happened. In his zeal to clip the grass to perfection, he ran over and cut one of the guide lines to the tree so that only one guide line remained. Hence, we now have a tree that leans to one side. After a few minutes of inspecting this situation, we figured out that if we wrapped the remaining guideline around the tree it might stay upright. Thus far, it is working. Of course, if we get a big wind, I expect the tree will sag to one side again but for now, it seems okay. Two supports are really better than one, and this made me think about our lives in Christ.
When we have the support and fellowship of other believers around us, we can stand when times are tough. This is why the Lord encouraged us to pray together, worship together, and hold one another accountable until He returns for His bride the church. It is far easier to to remain on solid ground when we have these supports to hold us up.
Jesus, in speaking to His disciples, taught them the importance of corporate prayer. In Matthew 18:19-20, we read: "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."
Of course, this verse does not mean that we cannot pray alone, but we all have been in situations where we have been lifting up a request repeatedly and we need support. Praying together has power. It is an added guideline to our otherwise sagging efforts. Who could not use other prayer warriors to agree in unison concerning an issue? The enemy of our soul cowers when the body of believers pray together, for he knows he is defeated in Jesus' name.
Worshipping together and hearing the Word is also a guideline we cannot do without. I have heard many people over the course of years tell me that they can worship by themselves. They do not need to go to church to worship. They can worship just fine on a golf course or in a fishing boat. Oh really? Scripture tells us just the opposite. The writer of Hebrews explains: "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 10:24-25). We can only stir ourselves up so much when we are having a bad day...that is why it helps to have other believers we can fellowship with. They have insight we lack and vice versa. We sharpen one another just by being together. Being part of the Body of Christ, we have an important role to play. We not only receive support but we are there to give it as well. Corporate worship and support helps us stand firm in Christ.
A final, but very important, support is accountability. When we are off on our own, we can frequently get sidetracked from the true path of following the Lord. Certainly, we do not mean to do this, but the flesh is weak even though our spirit is willing. This is where the church acts as our support group. It is in the church that we hear the Word of God which is able to convict us of our sin, and point us to God's will for our lives. Furthermore, fellowship with other believers, brings encouragement as well as a sense of responsibility towards one another that we do not have when we are on our own. Many major cults have begun when a person walked away from the organized church and claimed special revelation from God beyond the Bible or in addition to it. There is danger in the garden of this world for Satan the roaring lion is looking for whom he can devour. We are easy prey left on our own. We need the wisdom, support and encouragement of other believers in order to grow and stay the course in our lives.
I do not want to be like my inflatable Christmas tree which now stands with only one support. The Lord has provided for us just what we need to stand tall and firm in Him. We need to take advantage of His provision for us so we don't go leaning to the left or the right. Together in Christian fellowship we are like a cord of many strands that cannot be easily broken. However, on our own, we are not as strong.
Cherish the fellowship of other believers and find time in this busy holiday season to reach out and pray, worship and be accountable to one another to the glory of God in Christ, Jesus. We will be the stronger for it and far less crooked in our faith. Selah!