The Purpose and Power of Togetherness
As the off-season gets underway I have the opportunity to look forward for what is to come. I am excited for all the things I am about to be a part of like bible studies starting back, Wednesday night worships starting back at the church, potential small group opportunities, and free time so that I can enjoy fellowship with friends I haven’t seen all summer. Don’t get me wrong, I love the relationships that are formed over the summer, but there is something about a small group of people coming together that is very intriguing. I was curious as to why this is, and while studying I cam across some things that I found very interesting. Hopefully you find this framework of togetherness to be true in your life.
Let’s start things off by delving into what togetherness really means. One definition I found states that togetherness is warm fellowship, which in personal opinion is the best way to describe it. Togetherness is much more than simply being in proximity of other people. Yes, you need other people to have togetherness, but it is more about a feeling—a warm feeling of acceptance and unity. I also like this definition because it uses the word fellowship, which is a $5 Sunday school word. The term fellowship gets over used in my opinion and this causes it to loose its meaning. Fellowship isn’t just getting a group of people to be in the same room. It is about getting a group of people together in a way that they all leave better off. Simply put, togetherness is when you take a group of people and they accept each other and invest in each other’s lives.
For me the definition somewhat explains the purpose, but lets dive deeper. Each of us individually gain from gathering together, but the purpose of these gatherings should be to further the kingdom of God. This purpose can be found in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” We learn from this that we, as believers, have a responsibility to each other to behave like one body. Our purpose for gathering is to find out what ways we can help each other, encourage each other, and motivate other in times of need.
The purpose behind our togetherness shows light on the power of it as well. Matthew 18:20 says “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them”. This is taken from the context of how we as believers are to act when a brother sins against us. Christ walks us through a process of seeking forgiveness rather than vengeance. This of course is in parallel to us being in line with His will rather than our own will. It speaks volumes to the authority He gives us when we gather in His name though. If we want to make the most of our time together, we need to put aside our selfish ambitions and focus on His will. This will open the door for God to work in our lives in a way that makes us a blessing to those around us. That is true power—being a tool for God’s handy work in the lives of people we care about.
As your schedule gets clustered with commitment and commitment please do not loose sight of the importance of togetherness. Be intentional about creating time to surround yourself with fellow believers whether at Sunday morning worship, Wednesday night bible studies, or a weekly small group. It is important for us to find unity within our community of believers. It is our job to work together as one body with many members in an effort to bring glory to God!
Approaching the New School Year
Our Summer Camp season will be over in just a few short days. For anyone who works in camp ministry this is the greatest sign—aside from our ability to use and read a calendar, that a new school year is on the horizon. During the summer we focus our time and effort on showing our campers who Jesus Christ is with hopes that they will start/strengthen their relationship with Him. Once this happens we pray that God will equip them with the proper tools to be a light in their families, communities, and especially their schools.
While visiting and enjoying fellowship with the youth at Sharon Baptist Church last Wednesday I heard a great message about the mentality we should hope all students have while going back to school. Nick Cancemi, the youth pastor, used a piece of scripture from Matthew 16 to challenge his students on how they should view Jesus Christ. In verses 13-20 Jesus is on the way to Caesarea Philippi with the disciples and He asks them “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (verse 13). Their response is pretty flattering. They say that some people claim He is: John the Baptist who was a great preacher, Elijah who was a great prophet, and Jeremiah or one of the other prophets who were chosen messengers of God’s truth. It would be a great compliment for anyone to say that about us, but Jesus was asking about Himself. Jesus follows up this response by asking the disciples “who do you say that I am?” (verse15). Peter responds with “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (verse 16).
While at school this year students will cross paths with people that have very different views on who Christ is, and it is the responsibility of students who know the truth to help others learn it. That truth is that although Christ has the characteristics of a great preacher like John the Baptist, a great prophet like Elijah, and willingness to share God’s truth like Jeremiah or one of the other prophets, He is so much more than any of those things. Jesus is the Son of living God! It is on this truth the Christ built His church and it is on this truth that students will find courage to be brave, bold, and a bright light in the darkness of their schools. With this truth students can be the hands and feet of Christ and share His love with those around them. Students could make a positive change in their classes, grades, and schools by sharing this truth.
I hope that if you are a student starting school, a parent that has a child that is, or you are just reading this for fun that you will join us in praying for all students going back to school. It is obvious that satan has a stronghold on public schools in general but with a bold proclamation of the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God amazing things will happen in our school systems. Please add to your prayer list that God will work in the lives of students everywhere helping them to be brave, bold, and a bright light to their classmates this school year!!