Hebrews 10:24-25 says,
"And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day approaching."
Maybe nothing in our natural environment is more fascinating than the various forms of animal life. Animals are both beautiful and complex, especially the mysterious world of marine life. Maybe that is why I was interested in watching a documentary on life in the Red Sea while I was out of commission with illness recently. I think I also just wanted to know more about what was in that large body of water that God made a way for the Israelites to pass through! What were some of those fish thinking when God parted the water, anyway?! Interesting thought, right? Ha-ha!
Turns out, in the Red Sea there is a plethora of coral life which attracts many different types of fish. Because there are many fish, there’s also many predators. To protect themselves, some of the fish will school together. Quoting from the documentary,
“If one member is left alone, they seem stressed, confused, and disoriented. Quite the contrary, if they are in the company of the rest of the group, everything is well coordinated. They stay organized due to communication between each other. That’s why the distance between the fish and the speed always stays the same.”
They also said that by sticking together constantly, regular swarming fish have a better chance of survival against predators and spot predators faster. As soon as I heard this, I found myself hitting the rewind button several times because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I thought, “This is exactly why we stick together as believers in Christ and gather regularly!” When we aren’t faithfully connected to a body of believers, we become easy, isolated prey for the enemy to pick on and are more likely to become stressed, confused, and disoriented just like the fish. And it happens fast without realizing it. When we’re not connected to a body of believers, we also lose the encouragement and accountability of other believers in a church body that God has designed to minister to itself through its many members. The local church is a body and each member has an important function in ministering to the rest of the body (1 Cor. 12:12-27). This means that when you don’t gather, others also miss out on the function you provide to them.
Back to this fish now… get this: there’s two different types of swarming fish. We’ve talked about the regular swarming fish who stick together at all times. The other type is the irregular swarming fish that gather only when there is danger. Their chance of survival is not as good as the regular swarming fish. This is a good reason why we don’t want to wait until we’re in danger before we decide we need the church. Being a regular helps protect and maintain spiritual health. We’ve got to be more like the regular ones who always stick together. It’s a survival trait for the believer and can help us immensely.
This time of year, many struggle with seasonal depression (SAD) and gathering regularly with other believers is critical to our health spiritual and emotional health. In the movie We Bought a Zoo, Duncan Mee (Thomas Haden Church) is encouraging his brother, Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon), who recently lost his wife. To keep the current from sweeping him out into the dark sea of depression, Duncan reminds his brother of a lesson he learned on one of his painful, but insightful journeys:
“You’ve got a let a little sunlight in. Human interaction is a good thing! Take it from a man who spent six months on a fishing boat in Bali trying to find himself... You know what I found? I missed people man! Sunlight. Human interaction. Joy.”
Make sure you’re letting a little sunlight in this time of year, both literally and figuratively. With such a moderate winter as we’ve been having, make sure you get out and enjoy that beautiful sunshine when you can. It really does help. But also, let the golden rays of regular fellowship with other believers into your life as well! Oh yeah, one last encouragement: Spring starts in 36 days! Praise the Lord!
In His hands with you,
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