Preacher: “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!”
Seeker: The early church and the believers who came together did support each other; not just in terms of their faith but in material needs as well. However, I also know that challenge and difficulty deepens the faith experience and changes it into a life attitude and perspective. I have to wonder if the early church would have grown and drawn in new believers if it had been left unchallenged. Furthermore, thinking along these lines, Paul did a lot for the church both before and after his conversion. Before, his persecution forced the believers to travel to new places and tested their convictions. After, through his letters he supported and sustained those who felt challenged in their faith life and struggled to incorporate Christ-like perspectives and actions in their lives.
Preacher: “It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.” But I have to say, Seeker, you have mined deeply from what the psalmist wrote. I am proud of you! You have come so far.
Seeker: I appreciate you saying that, Preacher. Some days I struggle to put my faith into practice. And other days, things flow so well from soul and spirit.
Preacher: You will find, Seeker, that is a feeling and experience that many people of faith have. Let the good days and the memories of that sense of the Divine’s presence in your life help to carry you through when things are tough.
Seeker: Those good days, are you call them Preacher remind me of what the psalmist said – “It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion. For there the LORD ordained his blessing, life forevermore.” (Psalm 133)
Preacher: We all hope that our days will be like that. When we first come to faith, as the members of the early church did, everything seems so simple and straightforward. Our needs are taken care of, and life seems to float along. Then the challenges come, and we wonder what we got ourselves into. Yes, even more Seeker. Then we got some time of Christian living under our belt; and we see how Jesus overcame the struggles in his life, that he had difficulties. And then, with study, we realize the cost that Jesus paid. That first love and exuberance of belief gives way to a deeper sense. You are right when you say that it is the challenges in our lives that confirm and strengthen belief. The dew, Seeker, is more precious when before and after there has been dryness and want.
Seeker: I see now the deeper level of the psalmist’s musings. Unity is good and pleasant. But what goes the distance for our Christian life is when we overcome the obstacles and challenges both individually and corporately.
Preacher: Shalom & Selah, Seeker, Shalom & Selah!