Experts in teaching foreign languages insist that immersion is the best way to encourage second language proficiency. In fact, they tell me that as a Spanish teacher, I should be speaking in Spanish for about 90% of each class period. Speaking from experience, this is extremely difficult. While we do speak a lot of Spanish on a daily basis, I don’t think we’re anywhere near 90%. On the other hand, days when members of the school administration come into my room are days when I feel motivated to speak as much Spanish as possible. These days are few and far between, to say the least. Their comments are usually similar to, “I have no idea what he was saying, but it sounded good and the kids seemed to know what was going on.” Mission accomplished.
Immersion is also valuable in our spiritual lives. The things and people with which we surround ourselves have a very strong impact on the type of people that we are and the type of lives that we live. That’s why God warns us that “bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) The books of Proverbs and Psalms also warn us of the dangers that non-faithful friends can have on our lives. Paul says the following about our lives as Christians in Romans 12:1-2:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
God calls His Church to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” so that we can know and do His will. This only happens through careful study and application of God’s Word. The more time we spend in fellowship with God’s Church and in study of His Word should encourage us to conform ourselves to the image of Christ and to the instructions God gives us for holy, faithful living.
David says this on the subject in Psalm 1:
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
Satan will use anyone and anything he can to stop us from being the type of people that God wants us to be, even our friends and family. That’s why God encourages us to spend as much time with the Church as possible. For example, in Hebrews 10:25, God warns His Church against forsaking the assembly. Many people ask me if they need to “go to Church” to be a Christian or to go to heaven. Others flat out say it’s not necessary. My response is this: “There are too many commandments in the New Testament about what Christians are supposed to do with and for one another for someone to be counted as faithful who forsakes the assembly.” Also, they seem to forget the importance of the Lord’s Supper. How can you encourage, teach, help, or comfort people that you never see? What kind of relationship is it when a husband and his wife never spend time together? What happens to a body part when it is removed from the rest of the body? The answer to both questions is the same: death. A relationship without communication and interaction dies, just like a body part separated from the rest of the body.
Is this always easy? No! Satan makes sure of that. That’s why we have ball games and family reunions at times when we should be with the Church. Satan knows that we’re stronger as a body and holy army when we’re together. In the book of Ecclesiastes Chapter 4, we read the following:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Just like trying to conduct a Spanish class completely in Spanish is difficult, saying no to the world and yes to God and His Church is often challenging. We might make someone mad, lose a job or a friend, or have to watch our child sit out at a ball game due to missing practice for a Church assembly. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely! Pleasing God, living as He wants us to live, and being a holy example to the lost are way more important and rewarding than anything the world has to offer. Why? God’s faithful Church will be rewarded with eternal life with Him in heaven. It might require sacrifice, but our sacrifice won’t be anything to what Jesus sacrificed for us when He gave up His life on the cross at Calvary.