Stirring Up One Another--The Discipline of Fellowship

"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 Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Maybe it's age. Maybe it's because it can get tiring being with little people all day. Maybe it's because I get more done when I'm alone. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but as I get older I find myself enjoying time alone. This wasn't the case when I was younger, like in high school and college.

I'm not sure when the shift happened, but I wasn't really surprised when a Myers-Briggs personality inventory I took when I was a grad student at Multnomah Biblical Seminary showed that I was an introvert. At first, I thought it was just because I really wanted to do well in school, so I spent a lot of time studying alone. But as time went on, I realized that even when I didn't have anything to do, I really didn't mind a quiet house.

Now, as a mom, I relish and look forward to being home alone. Some moms I know see any free time as time to go out with friends. Not me. When I find myself with a free day on my hands, I am perfectly content staying in the house or going out for solitude and silence. Maybe my true colors are coming out as I age.

To say that it is actually a challenge for me to get out and mingle with others is really that---a challenge. I am realizing that it is difficult for me because of past experiences where I have developed deep relationships only to be hurt. To be honest, I'm not sure if I want to go there again.

And yet, the writer of Hebrews has a different view. Instead of looking at people as potential pain, he looks at them as targets for ministry and service. In other words, instead of looking at them for what they might do to me, I am to look at how I might be able to be a blessing to them. The focus is not on me and protecting myself, but on them and how I can stir them up in their faith.

The truth is, it is easy to neglect meeting together. Life gets busy sometimes (okay, who am I kidding? It's always busy!). I think the writer was referring to Sunday worship, but for me, that is so ingrained in my life that I need to apply it to other times.

Not only that, I can easily attend the worship service and run out right away afterwards. That's especially easy in a large church. Does that count? I don't think so. How can I stir up others to love and good works that way? No, I believe that this verse goes beyond making an appearance every Sunday in the back row where we can make an easy exit during the last worship song. I believe that God wants us to engage in meaningful, mutually life-giving relationship with one another. And not just one day a week, but "all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

From this verse, it appears that being with God's people needs to be a priority in our lives. I don't think it means we need to turn into social butterflies, but we all need to have times where our lives intersect and mingle with others. As I shared in the journal yesterday, our lives with God are meant to overflow and be a blessing to others. What God teaches me, does in me, is meant to not simply be hoarded but poured out to the benefit of others. 2 Cor. 1:4 gives a beautiful picture of how even our suffering and affliction can be beneficial to others as we walk with them through their trials and pain.

So it really isn't an issue of being an extrovert or introvert. It is really an issue of priority. That is why one of my goals this year is to try to take time to meet with a girlfriend once a month and to have families over twice a month. I haven't always made it, and it isn't always convenient, but I am always glad when I do. God brings people into my life that enrich me in so many ways. How poor I would be without them.

In today's journal (our second to last!), we'll be looking at how we can work in the disciplines of fellowship and hospitality into our lives. Sign in with your password. This is given out to newsletter subscribers. If you're not a subscriber, just sign in using the boxes on the right. Look for it in the "PS" section of your welcome email!