I’m using David DeSilva’s commentary, Perseverance in Gratitude, for a class on Hebrews. Here’s an excerpt on fostering an imagination-enlivening and flourishing Christian community:
Hebrews shows us that we must be very intentional about establishing and preserving Christian community if we are to fulfill our calling to discipleship. People cannot help but be influenced in their thinking, evaluating, and decision making by the opinions of others, and Western society has a way of bombarding its inhabitants with hundreds of messages daily about what it holds to be truly valuable, praiseworthy, and important. Christians may still benefit from taking to heart the exhortations of the author of Hebrews about strengthening their alternative, Christian culture. Believers need to gather frequently with one another, both in the formal settings of worship and informally for support and encouragement in pursuing values that do not always reflect the values of our society. In their interactions with one another, believers are called to hold up as valuable both the ideals that God values and the actions that Jesus commands, discovering and discussing these together in study of the sacred texts, and encouraging one another to seek out ways of living them out. . . Only with the strong support of others who are committed to the visions of humanity and community in the Scriptures can believers hope to remain on course toward their eternal homeland (p. 78).
3 thoughts on “Hebrews & the Cultivation of Christian Community”
Currently our community is discussing how to intentionally create a culture of encouragement, empowerment, wisdom and admonishment without relegating it to programs and accountability groups.
We are experimenting with ways to organically nurture the best in each other and graciously serve each other in those areas of sin we struggle with. We acknowledge the abuse of power is always a temptation. The subtle pull to “fix someone.” is in us all. So the question I want to help our people stir on is How do we stir up the best in what God is doing in each of us individually without controlling, manipulating, judging and getting impatient?
I’m just starting to dip into Hebrews and find all kinds of goodies for help with fostering healthy shared-life.
Thanks, Dan. What’s interesting is that we’re so used to reading the epistles for other reasons (to find the “theology”) that we forget that Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews are pretty much all focused on gaining resources for just what you’re looking for. That’s the question Paul (and the writer of Hebrews) wants his audiences to sit with: “How do we stir up the best in what God is doing in each of us individually without controlling, manipulating, judging and getting impatient?”
When you start to see the Community Narrative: a new humanity/family was being forged that previously could not and would not coexist in the Palestinian world, it starts to make sense why Paul exhausted himself working through relational dynamics under this new King Jesus. His letters are filled with rich challenges and visions of a “new family” learning to love each other maturely and faithfully in very practical ways.