Apparently, “Saturday Night” is the name of a song by the Eagles. I thought that I knew all of the Eagles’ songs… apparently not, because I do not know this song.
Anyway, we were able to get together in our home with some friends again last Saturday night. When we started getting together on Saturday nights a few weeks ago (see the post “Fellowship of Faith…“), we told people that we did not want to consider this an obligation, nor did we want others to consider it an obligation. So, when we have not been able to host our friends on Saturday night (such as a week ago), we let them know – without pressure or guilt. In the same way, when someone can’t get together with us on Saturday nights, we do not pressure them, nor do we make them feel guilty. It has been amazing to see what happens when God brings together people who want to come together in order to encourage one another. It is different than what generally happens when people get together because they feel obligated to get together.
This Saturday night was very special! Several months ago, some close friends of ours left this country for south Asia. After several months in south Asia, they found out that their young son had cancer, so they returned to this country, but to another state. We have been able to keep in touch with them through email and Skype and by phone, but we had not seen them in several months. The husband surprised us by coming to visit this weekend. So, he was able to join us last Saturday night.
He began to tell us what God had been teaching them during their time in Asia and through the cancer treatments for their son. It is one thing to read a book about dealing with suffering; it is something quite different to hear from someone who is in the middle of it. He talked about the spiritual darkness that they felt in South Asia. He also talked about the physical and emotional trials that they are going through now. It was so encouraging and challenging to hear him talk about God’s sovereignty throughout the entire process -so far. This family may not have a job. They are living in a borrowed house. They are driving a borrowed vehicle. Their son has cancer. But, he (and his wife) state with conviction, “God is good. God is in control. We have hope because of God.”
Listening to my brother talk about their time in South Asia (my son liked the monkey stories), and about their struggles with hospital stays and cancer treatments, I couldn’t help but think about Acts 20, where Luke records that the church in Troas gathered together to listen to Paul speak as he was passing through their area. I am not comparing my friend to Paul, but I do understand why people would want to listen to Paul speak past midnight (we didn’t meet that long – not quite).
As he talked about the spiritual darkness in south Asia, we began to discuss the spiritual realm. Specifically, we talked about why people in the West generally are not as aware of spiritual forces as people in other areas of the world. We talked about comforts, distractions, independence, etc.
We also talked about maturity. This discussion was from a question that I brought to the group: “How do we help one another mature in Christ?” This was a great conversation with several suggestions. We agreed that formal teaching was important, but that formal teaching could not be the extent of discipleship. Discipleship requires living life together, not just formal teaching. Interestingly, while we were talking, a couple of people pointed to things that happened during that evening meeting that exhorted them toward maturity in Christ (small things to some – very meaningful to others).
If you are reading this, and your only contact with other believers is in a formal setting with large groups of people, I encourage you to seek brothers and sisters that you can meet with in a more intimate setting as well. I have been surprised how others have taught me, and how God has used me to teach others, without “teaching” at all.