EXODUS 17:11-13: “As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Whatever happened to the importance of community? When we face a difficult struggle in our life, why are we tempted to tough it out alone? One of the great American myths is the lone cowboy riding off into the sunset. The truth is – we need each other!
We see the importance of community in this familiar account of the Israelites engaged in their first battle as they traveled to the promised land. When they had left Egypt and were pursued by the Egyptians, they did not have to fight. God miraculously delivered them with His mighty hand. Now, faced with the angry army of the Amalekites, Israel needed all hands on deck!
Of course, there were the key leaders who needed to take their position in this battle. First, there was Moses. Then, there was Joshua who was called to lead the Israelite troops into battle. However, this battle would not have been successful without every member of the army and Aaron and Hur who came to assist Moses as he held the staff of God over the battle.
We know the story all too well. When Moses held the staff of God up toward heaven and over the army, they prevailed against the Amalekites. However, when Moses’ arm grew tired, and he lowered the staff of God, the Amalekites prevailed. So, as the army continued to fight, Aaron and Hur came alongside Moses. They gave Him a place to sit and they supported both of his arms so he could hold the staff in place until Israel won the battle.
If we only think about Moses, Aaron, and Hur, we miss an important part of the story. Their role in this battle was important, but it was not all-important. Without the army, their efforts would have been useless. This brings us to the important point – in the battles that we face in life, we need the entire community of faith. We cannot face the battles of life alone. And, we cannot rely on just a handful of Christian superstars. We need the entire family of faith!
This is why being a part of a Bible-believing, loving, caring, and Spirit-filled church is so important. We were never called to travel the road to our promised land alone. We were called to traverse this life as a community of faith. God has not called us merely as individuals. More importantly, He has called us as His called-out ones, the ekklesia – the Church of the living God! We need each other as we endeavor to work out our own salvation in fear and trembling!
What does this mean practically? I need to be in realtionship with other believers. I also need to be accountable to other believers. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians.
- “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:17-21 NLT
Some may say – “I don’t need the church, I can worship God wherever I am!” While it is true that I can worship God wherever I am, I cannot submit to one another out of reverence for Christ alone. Worship, prayer, life, love, submission, and service are meant to be experienced in community. And, the community that God has called us to be a part of is not the local gym, bar, or social club. The community we are called to be a part of is the Church!
Our victory in life depends upon our connectivity in life. The irony is that everyone goes to church. Some peoples church is the gym, the golf course, the local pub, the Elks Lodge, and the list could go on and on. Yet, there is only one church that will help you grow in your faith and enter into the victory that God has called us to. This community is the Church!
- “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT
During this pandemic, the enemy of our souls has been trying to attack much more than our physical bodies. He has been attacking the church. Initially, every church stopped meeting because of the unknown threats of the pandemic. We gathered around our phones, tablets, computers, and TV screens each week to worship. Yet, month after month this lack of personal interaction began to take its toll. Now, with the vaccine, with therapeutics, and with a knowledge of this virus, we must resist closing the doors of the church. We must come together as the community of faith now more than ever before!
We must do this safely, with wisdom, and practicing social distancing. Yet, we need each other desperately. We need to gather, encourage each other to love and good works, and lift our voices together in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. The world, local governments, and the enemy of our souls would like to keep us sequestered and isolated. It is time for the church to lift up each other’s arms and show the world that we fear only one thing – the Lord God Almighty!
Let’s work together to keep the doors of the church open!
Heavenly Father, I pray for every church, every pastor, and every congregation this morning. Keep them safe. Give them faith and courage. Pour out Your wisdom into their hearts. Help them find the balance of faith and common sense so that they can come together and restore in-person worship and fellowship. Keep the doors of Your house of prayer open during this very difficult time. And, may we, the children of God, be faithful in gathering together to worship You and support one another!
In Jesus Name!