Our gatherings are no longer a repetition of tradition but an essential fellowship where we remind one another of our true identity.Heb 10:25b MIR
I have written about this verse in this translation before.
This version of the bible, just like the Message Bible, makes evidently clear that translation is always tainted by the theological beliefs and the worldview of the translator.
I love to read multiple translations of verses before making up my mind about what a verse, a story, a chapter is telling me. I also read commentaries. I want to know what others thought about this, which other verses they link it to, what the Greek says–or the Hebrew. And I pray and meditate. And then I write, with “writing as a form of prayer” (Franz Kafka).
Commentaries and lexicons open another can of worms. Obviously, all commentaries are also tainted by their authors’ theological views, especially Strong’s. Mr. Strong was a theologian, not a Greek and Hebrew scholar. The translations of words we get from him are interpretations from the biblical usage of those words, not their usage in common language of the day.
And Strong’s and Thayer’s are then again used to create new translations, just as Tyndale used Luther to translate the bible into English, and the subsequent translation of king James used Tyndale as a basis.
With all this said, I just want to emphasise our dependence on the Holy Spirit when we read the bible.
So back to our verse.
In traditional translations we hear something like
Not neglecting our own congregational meetings … , but, rather, encouraging each other.Heb 10:25 CJB
This rendition actually has planted one meaning and one meaning only of this verse in our brains:
You have to be in church whenever the church doors are open.
But there is so much more in this verse, and a new rendition lets us break from our fixed mindsets at times–or we react with disgust, fear, distaste, neglect, denial or rejection.
Why does this rendition sound so different from others?
My take is this: it tries to unearth the motivation of the writer to use a specific Greek word in this verse: episunagoge. To read about this a little more, go to the article I linked to above. For now it suffices to know that it can mean “more than just a meeting”.
We all have certain liturgies, and our meetings are very predictable. We hand over the control to the Holy Spirit to do what he wants to do, and only the few are baffled by the Spirit’s will to do the same over and over again.
We say that liturgies and fixed flow of actions are giving rest and building a home in their familiarity.
But looking around, we see that liturgies do not work as expected any longer. They are soothing for those that are already part of the church and familiar with the process–at least for some. But those liturgies do not seem to have much of an impact on lifestyle or outsiders. How could they?
Today’s liturgies are usually grounded just in tradition. They run contrary to everything we read about Jesus, for example. He probably never did things the same way twice. He lived in the moment and reacted to the prompting of the Spirit, while having an agenda and a goal. Both and, not either or, but never fixated, while following the principles.
We never see Jesus conduct a worship time to open up the spirits and hearts of the listeners and have them detach from their daily life prior to his teachings.
We do not read about corporate prayer sessions with the disciples, other than their nap time in the Garden Gethsemane.
We have institutionalized our meetings and made them predictable, hoping that the Spirit would interrupt us, but leaving little room for that to happen. Our flexibility goes as far as rearranging the building blocks of our meetings to a certain extend.
Even our messages are predictable. They work on repetition, and have become complicated mantras. Granted, we have overcome the liturgical muttering of the same words every time. Dominus vobiscum–Et cum spiritu tuo–Sursum corda–Habemus ad Dominum–Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro–Dignum et iustum est.
What we encourage in each other is the sense of “being right”.
When we hear the same things over and over again, we feel affirmed and reassured that we are correct, that we have chosen the good over the bad, that we correctly know what is good and what is bad.
We live from the wrong tree. Liturgy has the tendency to have us categorise and judge and live from the wrong tree.
I love the new rendition: we remind one another of our true identity.
It is clear that it is another interpretation of “encouraging each other”.
It flows from the tree of life.
What is our true common identity? We are the mirror reflection of God.
God is the source, and we are the reflection. Together, we are one. Jesus came to show us how to be the reflection of God, while the Spirit might be seen as the light beam from the source carrying the image of God to be reflected by us.
And like with a hologram, the more of us reflect God, the sharper the image becomes with more detail. The longer the beam writes on us, the more accurate and rich in details the projection becomes.
In addition, we are all individuals with a different calling and different giftings. Each of us will add new facets to the whole picture as in a mosaic when we become our true self. And again, encouraging each other is so important, reminding each other of our true, this time individual identity is so key.
When we have non-traditional meetings that allow the Spirit to be the laser beam, and encourage each other to be the individual mirror reflection of God together, we can project the image of God for other people.
And we think it’s all about a moral and ethical lifestyle and reassuring each other that we are right, at least after some corrections, and that others need to be like us.
That had its time. But it’s time to go deeper.