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16th April: Togetherness

'... 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. Hebrews 10:24-25

'Togetherness' is something of an 'in' word these days. It gives a good clue to one way in which we can -- and should -- obey our Lord's 'new commandment' to his disciples, 'that you love one another' (Jn 13:34). It is simply by meeting together.

Some of us, doctors by no means excepted, find reason to excuse ourselves from this, so avoiding involvement in our church's activities. We are too busy or too involved in other things (worthwhile things, of course), the style of church service or music is not in our line, we have too little in common (culturally, intellectually, etc, etc) with other church people, and so.

Reasons of this kind can be a bit thin, like the excuses in the parable of the great banquet (Lk 14:16-24). But if they really do weigh heavily with us, we need to watch them particularly the one about other people. Christians come in all shapes and sizes, whether considered physically, intellectually, culturally or what you will, and so they are not always to our personal taste. The cynical sentimentalist can say: 'Of course I love my fellow men, it's people I can't stand'. That attitude is not an option which the Lord Jesus leaves open to his disciples. He does not say we must always like one another and one another's funny little ways. Indeed, I know myself too well to expect everyone to like me and my funny little ways. The commandment is to love one another, as he has loved us.

C S Lewis, university professor, man of intellect and culture, has told how, when he first became a Christian, he thought he could get along quite well without going to church. He considered the pros and cons, and he seems at first to have found the cons beguiling. Among other things, 'I disliked their hymns, which I considered fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music', he writes. 'But as I went on I saw the great merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and realised that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-sided boots in the opposite pew and then you realise that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit'.

Is solitary conceit our problem -- or part of it? It does not belong to the mind of Christ. Conceit and love are just not compatible.

Teach me, master, to love as you love.

Further reading: Jn 13:31-35. Heb 10:19-25.


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