Grace draws us by love. It takes our hands. It opens it's arms. It waits outside our slammed door.
I'm thinking this morning about some of the things that draw people and what chases them away because I believe that God progressively draws people to Himself. That drawing is more of a dance than a consistent tugging. There are ebbs and flows... turns and differences in perceived distance. He never leaves us but He gives us room at times and draws us close at others... all to win us.
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25 ESV
The 'gathering' and 'exhortation' are conceptual parallels linked to the 'confession of hope' and 'encouragement'. People fly solo for a reason. They were chased away by others or something in them moves them to isolation... it could be trust issues or independence issues... fear or disdain of the demands imposed or inability to meet the ones that have been imposed in the past.
People might say, 'I don't need to gather.' or 'I don't like to gather.' or even to themselves, 'I don't like who I am when I gather.' or 'They want me to be something I am not.'... all of it is linked to demands and commands imposed by self expectation or external pressures.
Grace exhortation wins us and creates a desire in us to be close to one another. Grace is gentle but moving. It does not put a spotlight on self. It informs us of a new pure clean identity and a living active Savior. It points us to a better way. It makes available a new option. That option involves nearness.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace" - Ephesians 2:13-14a ESV
I want to be with Jesus in part because I like who I am when I am with Him. Not because I fear He will say or think bad things about me when I am not there. I know He won't.
The law ignites in me a desire to rebel. That rebellion is hurtful to myself and to others. People get trampled in it's drive to freedom.
The natural man either chases away the criminal or joins him. There may be honor and comradery among thieves but there is no fellowship because they are all alone even when they are together.
Passivity is my enemy because it lets me live in isolation. It leaves others in isolation or banded together in connections based on rebellion.
Actively abiding in rest and living in divine exhortation makes my hope large. Big enough to cover others. It puts more food on my table than I can eat myself. It challenges me but not by command... it draws me by love.
God... Give us big tables this year... big hearts and big tables... so people can exhale, relax and put themselves aside to join hands and revel in who You are.