Within such meetings it is easy to hurt and be hurt. Why then would anyone bother in turning up the next week? Because of the compelling attraction of Jesus! As people are offered opportunities to reflect upon, pray to and sing about Jesus and His glory something happens. His mercy flows. His forgiving grace reaches out. His humbling is felt. It is from such meeting together a tangible evidence of His love is realised. How? By the manner and readiness of the person hurt to forgive and the person who caused the hurt to be heartbroken over the action.
‘Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ (Hebrews 10:24-25) Such a get-together is more than ritual, more than fellowship, more than giving a ‘nod to God.’ It is an opportunity to be refreshed in and by the attractiveness of Christ Jesus. This motivates you, me, to reach out and encourage those battered and bruised by life’s unfairness. It becomes a discovery of Proverbs 27:17: ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the face of another.’ (NRSV margin)
Remember iron upon iron causes friction. It is that ‘combustion’ which is the medium for sharpening or smoothing. A similar spiritual impact takes place when God’s people meet together. Do you think the following is valid in your life?When I am within the church scene my meeting with others and their interaction with me is a sharpening experience:
*sharpened is my appreciation of personal inadequacies.
*sharpened is my poverty of expressing grace.
*sharpened is my awareness of mercy.
*sharpened is my understanding of another’s worth.
*sharpened is my commitment to prayer.
*sharpened is my calling to sacrifice.
*sharpened is my spirit to hear and obey.
*sharpened is my devotion to Christ Jesus.
*sharpened is my vision concerning ministry.
*sharpened is my hunger to know God’s word.
|A Church from Eyre's Peninsula, South Australia|
How can I handle such sharpening? How can others cope with the friction I cause and endure their sharpening? Only by the ‘oil of grace’ Christ Jesus supplies. Only by that ‘oil’ being supplied and applied will any of us be fit to serve, fit to live with, fit to worship. So we come back to the reality of why we meet together. It is the compelling attraction of Jesus. Then, and only then will we see purpose in how He uses others to sharpen, or smooth us. The ultimate reason of course is this, He makes us fit to enjoy the Kingdom of God with those who have sharpened us and whom we have been used to sharpen them.
©Ray Hawkins 16:2:2015.