"But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." 1 Thess 5:4-11 ESV
In Spurgeon's devotional for this morning he quotes one of these verses and some lines from Pilgrim's Progress. He brings out a principle that travelers who travel together have company to keep them awake and lively. So true.
It made me re-read that verse and the surrounding verses looking for what was singular and what was plural. Paul emphasizes a 'corporate identity'... we are this... we are not that... even the girding of armor to prepare for battle is done together. He almost talks like a coach talking to his team in the locker room and telling them to encourage one another about the victory they have.
Fellowship keeps us awake. It keeps us sharp.
"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." Heb 10:24-25 ESV
This verse is often used in the context of individual church attendance but the 'us' here is talking about corporate fellowship. It isn't just something 'I' do... it is something 'we' do. It is a group venture. It is team concept.
Our individual hope is expressed to the group. Our individual faith makes up a corporate faith field.
"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Matt 18:20
"For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." 2 Cor 4:15 ESV
Grace is experienced individually but it is extended corporately. Every joint supplies in the corporate manifestation. Thanksgiving is increased.
I want to grow as an individual but I also want to grow as a coach and as a team player in my spiritual walk. I want to go to a gathering I am leading or attending in some capacity with a wakeful purpose to help another person strap on their armor or to build up and encourage in some way. To go not in some emotional mania of rhetoric but to go in faith and to enter the flame where I can be forged in the corporate expression of hope and love.