Oil and Dew: Two Reasons to Give the Church Another Chance

When my husband and I were still a “young couple,” we used to laugh over an imagined scenario at our church:

“What ever happened to that young couple with all the boys?”

“Haven’t you heard?  They divorced – someone said that they just grew apart, that they didn’t know each other anymore.”

“No!  They were here at church all the time!  How could something like that have happened?”

Truly, it’s not funny, but we laughed because we knew that even though our church family loved us,  if we had said, “Yes,” to all the ministry opportunities that were pressed upon us,  it wouldn’t be long before this was our fate.  Fortunately, we were able to remember their love for us as we made decisions to become the guardians of our own margins and boundaries.

For many people, the church has a reputation to overcome.  It’s hard to trust The Body when you’ve been burned by its members.  For various reasons,   believers are staying home on Sunday mornings, and the experts say that only 20% of Americans attend church regularly.  Certainly, anyone who has done time in the pew can find a reason to gripe:  lack of appreciation; not liking the pastor/the music/the sermons/the color of the carpet; unsatisfying or turbulent relationships.   All of this should be no surprise to us, for even the healthiest, most vibrant fellowships are populated with . . .  well, sinners.  There’s really no one else to come to church!

[Please note:  I’m not talking about cases of spiritual abuse in which people who have no business being in ministry use their position to take advantage of others in order to meet their own needs.  I’m referring to interpersonal conflict, disagreements of style and method, and the misunderstandings that often lead to grudges.]

Even if you feel as if you have been burned by the body of Christ, the church is still God’s means of providing fellowship and spiritual food for His flock.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a single man whose life was cut short by a Nazi noose while he was still in his thirties, managed to capture the essence of fellowship in the body of Christ with these words:

“The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him.  He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself . . .”

To me, this “speaking God’s Word” to one another is the way we stay on the path, the way we persevere in the life of faith.  In his book, Life Together, Bonhoeffer referenced Psalm 133, an anthem that celebrates unity and community, and, in the psalm, two metaphors emerge:

 1.  Oil:  a sign of God’s presence and a symbol of the Holy Spirit.

“Life together” for Dietrich Bonhoeffer meant that the believer is anointed by the Spirit to speak truth into the life of another because “Christ in his own heart” provides stability, making him a “bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation.”

When I am allowing God to work in me, the oil of the Spirit lubricates my rusty, crusty, and complaining relational joints.  He keeps me from throwing sparks, and He smooths the places where my ideas rub roughly against another’s.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments,” (Psalm 133:1,2)

To be honest, my stain pre-treating, laundry-doing, 21st century heart quails at the mention of all that oil running onto Aaron’s robes, but for the sojourner, traveling to Jerusalem and singing Psalm 133 on the barren and dusty Judean roads, the song would have carried a message of refreshment and relief.  Likewise, the work of the Spirit in those who believingly follow Jesus in my church community provides renewal and refreshment for me.  Sharing the way God’s Word is changing them, testifying to the evidence of His active presence in their circumstances, they are precious oil, for even during times when God seems silent in my own world, I am encouraged by His “very present help” in their lives.

 2.  Dew:  a symbol of refreshment and blessing

Mount Hermon, with an altitude of over 9,000 feet, would have seen some dewy mornings, much to the envy of those living in barren, dry Jerusalem.

It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing— Life forevermore.  (Psalm 133:3)

In the same way, I am refreshed and renewed by the enthusiasm and spiritual hunger of the women in my Sunday school class.  From my “forever young” octogenarian to the twenty-somethings with their passion for outreach, each week their love for learning God’s Word and their compassionate impulses fuel my flagging spirit.

“How can I send help to that family who lost everything in the flooding?”

“Can we put together a special encouragement package for our pastor’s wife?  I’ll bring the basket!”

Oh, yes, my friend!  Bring the basket!

Bring on the dew!

Let the oil of the Spirit run, and let this delightful community of faith flourish under His renewal, His strengthening, and  His encouragement!

Image credit:  Many thanks to Jen Ferguson.

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21 thoughts on “Oil and Dew: Two Reasons to Give the Church Another Chance”

  1. Powerful Spiritual lessons “The Oil and the Dew”. The Holy Spirit and the refreshing.
    You are right Michele, Iron sharpens Iron,
    I absolutely agree, “The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him”.
    Always a blessing reading your Bible Study articles.
    God Bless

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Michele … this is a beautiful overview of where the church is … and why. But even better is the welcome invitation to return home, to be in community, to worship with other kindred spirits, to serve with abandon.

    To forgive.

    This has helped today. Thanks so much …


  3. Church where I live in New England is very different than church is in the southern part of the country. We are not a big church going population up here and this has been more and more the case in the past decade or two. I have returned to church these past few months but it is tenacious at best. I go because I want to learn, I want to be immersed in bible, and I want to be part of a community. I can go to bible study without going to church, I can read the bible at home….that leaves only the community aspect. It has been my experience that this is not something that churches excel at. I think that is why it is so easy for people to stop attending church. They have no commitment. If you have friends that are “church friends” it is easy to leave them behind when you stop attending. Perhaps this is just my experience but I do think that others feel the same way. A true friend is involved in many different aspects of your life. I agree that we need other Christians in our lives…but not only in churches. We need to be sharing that friendship in ways that are sincere….not just church oriented. So that if you don’t see some one in church, you are not wondering where they are because you already know where they are. You already know what is going on in their lives because you are their friend.


    1. I love what you said about knowing where someone is when they are not in church. To me, you have capsulized community in those words. I also live in New England, and it is challenging to: 1. Find a good church up here; and 2. To sustain a good church. The majority of sound, Bible teaching churches are very small, and are struggling. I believe that God calls us to faithfully support and to be supported by the body of Christ by “assembling together.” It is difficult sometimes to foster community within a local church, but you seem to have a Spirit-given ability not only to articulate what that means, but to feel deeply about the needs that are out there. I will pray for you very specifically that God would use you in this way in the church you are now attending. Blessings, and thanks for your detailed and insightful comment.


  4. Thanks, Michele, for sharing these verses in Psalm 133. I hadn’t thought of how they relate to the church today. I am blessed to be in a fellowship where I can experience the abundance of oil and dew. I am both encouraged and refreshed by the believers in my church.

    your neighbor at Give Me Grace

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michele, you bring a refreshing word to us, oil and dew combined. And I have a deep inner yearning to find a real place of belonging such as you describe your church to be. My problem is health (or should that be illness..) related as I’ve been too sick to get to my home church for a few years now. Although I hadn’t deliberately sought it out, I’m finding fellowship with like-minded souls in an on-line community which helps to feed my faith and provide mutual prayer support. In a way, I suppose we have become church for one another. Not ideal maybe but still a gift of grace I am grateful for! Blessed to be your neighbour at Tell His Story today. 🙂


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