“And let us consider one another to prove unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Our weekly Christian devotional
I love God. There. I said it. Whenever I make this simple claim in public, the reactions I receive are across the board. Some are taken aback in shock, others nod their head in support and many shamefully (yet quietly) agree with me.
In those conversations about God, I have also noticed that most people naturally make the assumption that because love Him, I must also love going to church. Ha. I wish.
You see, technically speaking, I can literally say that I grew up in the church. My parents not only made sure that we faithfully attended every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, we also attended daily chapel services at our private Christian School. If there were ever a case of receiving ‘too much’ of a good thing, I strongly believe our home was over-qualified for this statement.
And although my parents tried their best to do right by all of us, In my opinion this gross over-exposure did more to actually dull my spiritual senses than it did to light my spiritual fire.
Church wasn’t a place of refuge from the world; it actually became my world. And, in this odd microcosm of imperfect people, I was wrongfully disillusioned. I witnessed the kind of gossiping, backstabbing and hypocrisy that could rival any episode of The Real Housewives. (Minus the plastic surgery and cleavage, of course.)
Many of these behaviors were done in the name of God, under the guise of ‘prayer’ or ‘help’. But the end result was never fruitful. Seeing this left a very bitter taste in my mouth about God’s house and ‘His people’.
When I ventured out into the big, bad world I noticed that there wasn’t really much of a difference from the small, bad world I had left behind. I saw much of the same kind of behavior out in the world in my old church. The most disappointing part of it all was my new friends were far more tolerant, loving and forgiving than the people I left behind.
After attending a liberal college, I felt a such a tremendous sense of relief and ease. Finally! I was ‘accepted’—without conditions and standards that only Jesus could keep! For the first time in my life the possibility of better clothes, nicer cars and a more colorful vocabulary were finally viable options for me (minus those pesky strings of guilt!)
According to the Southern Baptist Church I grew up in: There were ‘good people’ and ‘bad people’.
But, in my exodus from my personal version of hell on earth, I learned that people are simply just people. There are good and bad aspects in all of us–church people and non-church people. I came to the conclusion that all human beings were hypocrites in some way; showing off their best and hiding their worst.
It made me think: “What was the point? Why bother being good if I didn’t truly feel it in my heart?” I had a deep desire to live authentically because hypocrisy was beginning to make my skin crawl.
In my quest to find out who I actually was and what I truly believed, I sampled the best and the worst of what the world had to offer.
After doing this, I couldn’t help but notice the strangest thing happening to me! The vanities of life left that same bitter taste in my mouth…
My heart longed to know the truth. I needed to know if God was anything like those people I had experienced in my old church and if I qualified as a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ person in His book.
Then, one day, after reading the four gospels on my own, I found God. I wasn’t in church, I wasn’t ‘perfect’…but that didn’t matter. The truth really did set me free. For the first time I realized that God wasn’t angry, mean or judgmental. He loved me enough to send His Son to die for me. The good news was that God never expected me to be ‘perfect’! He only wanted my heart to be perfect towards Him. I was now beginning to understand why Jesus died on the cross. Yes, He died on the cross to save me from my sins. But in doing this He was also supernaturally available to help me overcome sin on a daily basis. Of course, not in that humanistic, legalistic, perfectionistic way we tend to look at it…but in that imperfect and raw way we humans really are.
As I worked with Him daily, I could feel God giving me the strength not to ‘just look good’ to others, but to live a good life—authentically. This kind of freedom was priceless for me.
Today, I can sleep at night, because I’m no longer in fear. I’m joyful because I’m not on this journey alone—I have God on the inside of me helping me every step of the way.
After reading Hebrews 10:24-25, I felt very convicted about my church attendance. Although I found God, I hadn’t even considered venturing back into a church again. It was really too painful for me to even think about.
But, I started to see that my horrible experience is exactly why it’s important to heed the wisdom of Hebrews 10:24-25. Christians need honest love and encouragement from each other. In a world that is rife with evil, it’s crucial to be a part of something that is bigger than yourself—a part of God’s greater plan to heal anyone who really wants to be healed.
To be frank, reconnecting with other Christians hasn’t exactly been the easiest thing for me to do. Just like my past experiences, I was judged, backstabbed and gossiped about. But, this time I didn’t stop my search for the right church.
So, what changed, you ask? This time I had a healthy expectation of imperfect people: There will always be pain when we deal with other human beings. But that discomfort should never stop us from trying our best do what we know will ultimately shape our character as we chose to be obedient to God.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I have seen your power. I have felt your presence when I pray and read your word.
I have also felt like there has been a stunt in my spiritual growth. After reading Hebrews 10:24-25, I believe I see one of the major reasons. It is in your will for me to be in a church community with other believers. I must admit the idea of going to church gives me much anxiety and fear.
Lord, I know you have not given me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
I will not have this kind of peace if I willfully disobey your will. The knowledge of truth will get me nowhere if I refuse to obey it.
Lord, other Christians have hurt me terribly. In your name, they have done and said many harmful things. Help me to forgive them and heal the wounds they have created within me. I want to move on from this, to get better from my experience; not bitter.
Forgive me for only thinking of my needs and my pain instead of considering what I can do to bless another. In Jesus’ precious name, help me to come out of this selfish shell and blossom for your glory. Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: Hebrews 10:24-25
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan