Opening Prayer: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”
Daily Scripture Reading:
- Genesis 40:6-7
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
- Acts 2:42-47
- Galatians 6:2,10
- Hebrews 10:24-25
We have a sign over our bed with the word “Proskartereo” painted on it. “Proskatereo” is a Greek verb that means; “to adhere to, to be devoted to, to be steadfastly attentive, to give unremitting care to a thing, to continue all the time in a place, to persevere and not to faint, to show one’s self courageous for, to be in constant readiness for one.” Some people want a “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” kind of marriage. I’ll take a Proskatereo marriage. Proskatereo is the word that is translated as “devoted” in Acts 2 where we read about the way the early believers did life. It looks a little different than “church” today, doesn’t it?
Joseph wasn’t merely in charge of his fellow prisoners. We see that he was devoted to their well-being too. In Genesis 40:6-7 we read that he noticed when the cupbearer and baker were “dejected,” and he took the time to ask them, “why do you look sad today?” Joseph paid attention. I doubt the emotional health of the prisoners was of concern to the warden or part of Joseph’s job description, but he cared. He took the risk of getting into a messy conversation. He sacrificed his time for the good of someone else. He showed compassion that went above and beyond, when he himself had been shown very little.
In today’s culture of individualized and privatized faith, we tend to look at devotion to a church or community of believers as an add on, a bonus when it is convenient, an option, something to try to squeeze in and grumble about. Or maybe we for long community but have sabotaged ourselves by believing in the unrealistic fairy tale of utopian relationships that meet every need and bow to every personal preference. Real community is costly. We are called to sacrifice time, like Joseph, to pay attention to our people and press into the messy places. We are called to risk being vulnerable- having others see our sins and our wounds. We are called to put our insecurities and fear of rejection on the line to make someone else feel secure and pursued.
For God, living in community is not an add on, or a matter of convenience. In fact, God’s very character is so tied to community that he has been in relationship with Himself- Father, Son, and Spirit- for eternity. To Jesus, devotion is not an option. In fact, community was such an integral part of His earthly ministry that He traveled, taught, slept, ate, and healed in the context of it. If Jesus lived in community, shouldn’t we? If God designed us in His image, don’t we need relationships as well? And if our boy Joseph could sacrifice time, be attentive, and press into hard places in prison, can’t we in our church?
Community is costly, but not near as dangerous as walking this path alone. There is an old story about the evangelist D.L. Moody meeting with a citizen who wanted to argue against the importance of church commitment and devotion to community. As the man spoke, Moody quietly removed a single burning coal from the roaring fire in the room and placed it on the stone hearth. Before the man had finished, the coal dimmed and went out. As Moody silently looked up, the man simply nodded and said, “You have made your point.”
Today’s Big Questions: Do you live your life and pursue the Lord in the context of sacrificial community or are you a dimmed coal on the hearth? Who are the people you are devoted to share your burdens with, to confess your sins to, to reveal you wounds to?
Prayer Response: Today, pray Hebrews 10:24-25. “Lord, let me consider how I may spur others on toward love and good deeds. Give me the strength and devotion to not give up meeting together with those in my community as some are in the habit of doing, but help us encourage one another all the more as we see the Day approaching.”
Optional Action Step: Take time to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ today and schedule a coffee or lunch devoted to encouraging each other and praying together. Sacrifice your time to really pay attention to their well-being.
Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”