And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. Matthew 24:12
Jesus told us what the signs will be of His return. He gave a word of caution when He told His disciples what will come to pass before His return. He said, when these things happen, be ready, because His return will soon be following.
He did not say things would be easier and everyone will be at peace before His return. He describes persecution, hatred, fear, coldness… We know these things must come to pass, and even now we can see it unfolding before our eyes.
One thing in particular standing out to me is this… hearts growing cold.
There are some who will preach do not forsake the gathering of the saints to get you through the church doors. I, for one, do not believe this is what Hebrews 10:24-25 means.
Paul clearly admonishes us to come together to warn, urge, and encourage one another, especially as the day of His return approaches. Is this happening in the “church institution” today?
Have you ever been in a room full of people and still feel alone? Have you ever tasted loneliness? Have you ever been through a struggle and just needed someone to come alongside you and tell you it will be OK? Or how about this… do you have a secret sin you struggle with and you need someone to hold you accountable, to lead you into restoration?
Proverbs 27:6 says, faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
What is a friend? A friend is someone who loves you enough to be honest with you. A friend cares about your well being and if they see you heading to a cliff they will stop you. A friend is invested in your well being.
I am going to speak for myself, I don’t dare speak for any other, though I suspect I am not alone this. I have been in churches, surrounded by people, heard some good sermons (and some not so good), and felt alone. I have walked into churches unnoticed and have left unnoticed. There have been times I have thought, I could have stayed home and watched TD Jakes on the internet and received more encouragement and fellowship than I did sitting in a full church on a pew.
We are responsible to work out our own salvation. But we should not be alone. Nor should we neglect others.
We were created in the image of God. Our God is the God of relationship. Intimate relationships. As His Body, we should be representing Him through relationships.
I ask myself, how do peoples hearts grow cold? How does someone who loves the Lord have a cold heart? How is this possible?
Have we, as a body, become so busy we cannot even truly fellowship with other believers? Do we do “our time” on Sunday mornings and then spend the rest of the week living selfishly for ourselves? How many times has someone reached out to us and said “I need a friend” and we pat them on the back, say be well, and send them on their way?
What could possibly be so important we cannot take time for one another?
Of course, we all have responsibilities that require our attention, work, family, etc.. But in the hustle of busyness have we forsaken each other? Loneliness and depression should not exist in the body.
What is fellowship? Anytime we come together, to lift His Name, encourage one another, confess to one another, pray for each other, break bread and share with each other, this IS the gathering Paul tells us to not forsake. It is in this environment we grow, we are strengthened, and we are challenged.
I consider Christians in other countries that are truly persecuted for their faith, even to the point of death. They are true Christians. You better believe they will gather with other believers because they need each other.
Yet, here in the US our persecution is subtle, and it is not to physical death (though I argue it may be to a spiritual death). We battle complacency, business, selfishness. Our hearts are growing cold. Can we say we love God and yet, neglect His body?
There is power in unity. A chord of three strands is not easily broken.
Do you know how gangs are formed? Do you know why we are losing so many young people to gang activity? One word, COMMUNITY. Everyone has a need to belong, to be accepted. Awake church! We have within us the answer to what they seek. We have the cure to the disease that is killing the world. We are the light, let us shine.
Oh, God, revive us. Awaken Your church from the slumber of complacency and business. Set our hearts on fire so we may not be cold any longer. Call Your five fold ministry to step into their position, bring forth order within the church. Forgive us, God, for not loving as we have been called to love. Give us Your heart of flesh. Heal us, oh God.