Dear Bride of Christ,

Daily Encouragement

Today, dear Bride, I am afraid that most of your people compartmentalize their faith. "Church" to them means events--services, work days, pot lucks, revivals--held at certain times and places. "Church" is a part of life--a very big part for the "committed nucleus" in your assemblies, to be sure, but still something they can plug into daytimers and jot on wall calendars.

Yet if you will stop compartmentalizing your life into the "religious" and the "secular" and will love Jesus with all your heart, all the time, you won't have to compartmentalize your relationships among your members. They'll be sharing meals, rides, and homes together. They'll be calling each other on the phone because they want to, not because they've been assigned names on a "phone chain." They'll be encouraging one another out of the overflow of their love affair with Jesus.

That daily encouragement of one another is an essential prerequisite for the practical holiness the apostles wrote you about. The Word says: "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage each other daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness" (Heb. 3:12-13). The seven-days-a-week kind of exhortation that naturally flows out of de-compartmentalized living and loving will ensure that no one hardens into a settled rebellion against God. Without daily encouragement, all of us would become callused to sin--and never realize the full extent of the damage, because sin is so deceitful.

The truth is, Bride, that your decision to chop up your life into "events" has turned your people into largely anonymous attenders. A life you can live; an event you can only attend. The opportunity to "encourage one another daily" doesn't come easily in that setting, and the capacity to carry it out fruitfully is tragically limited when the members see only the external characteristics of each other in such an artificial, controlled environment. Shallow logistical rearrangements or heavy-handed manipulation can't substitute for reality.

Dear Lady, something has to change! To prepare yourself for your Groom, you must put on practical righteousness. That righteousness requires that you live with a soft heart, free from the settled rebellion of sin. If your heart is to remain soft and free from deception, you must have daily encouragement and exhortation among your members. Yet you worked against your preparation as you redefined "faithfulness" as attendance. Your people are part of committees and classes and cells; they are not, by and large, part of each other's lives. And so isolated Christians go right on being religious, but tragically empty and hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

The downward spiral must be broken. The latest fad won't suffice. You must return to your Groom with all your heart, recapturing the love and devotion you had for Him at first. You must reject compartmentalized Christianity and teach your members to love Jesus and live for Him moment by moment. You must teach them that they need each other desperately if they are to live that way. And you must part with anything you discover that stands in your way of that Holy Passion for your Beloved.

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