"Get yourself some haverim." What in the world does that mean? Haverim is the Hebrew words which is plural for haver, which means a "friend". Havruta is a gathering of students to study Scripture, or the Torah. This is an interactive gathering divided up into various discussions over the text of Scripture. Sometimes vigorous debate going on as to the meaning and application of the text to life. Challenging questions to think and wrestle through the text are welcomed and encouraged.
Enter our western individualism mindset where my interpretation is as good as yours. Out of that comes some dubious interpretations, not to mention all the factions even within single groups. Though in the postmodern influence of today the differences don't matter. But sometimes they do. We see this when we understand the background and setting in Jesus' day, and his differences and confrontations with religious leaders of his day such as the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Zealots. Jesus amazed the religious leaders in the Temple at the age of twelve with his questions and understanding. And he attracted the crowds with his teaching and authority, even as he ended up repelling them and many of his disciples over his hard teachings which he taught were a fulfillment of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament.
I believe God has been working on me lately to take the time and make the sacrifice to interact more with other believers in gatherings. This is already built into my schedule once a week in a half hour of "devotions" at work, in which we are now working through the book of Ecclesiastes. In this is not only the need to grapple with the text of Scripture, but to grapple with it in terms of our lives, whether or not we're really beginning by grace to live it out. The haver gather in the havruta as disciples. They learn from their Rabbi, or Master Teacher, and then they venture to work out together how that applies to life. This suggests to me that our following of Jesus is to be worked out both in us individually seeking a close relationship and walk with Jesus, and seeking to do so together with others.
And we are to identify with each other in all of life. That includes past and future generations, but where the rubber may meet the road for us, the people we are around and know now. So that we see ourselves in participation with others in some way, at least by being able to identify with them, rather than seeing ourselves as a cut above them, which of course is not really the case.
And there is the need for transparency. Only as we are honest with others about our own struggles and God helping us through them, will they have any hope that God can help them, also. This is about being real and about life. And life in Jesus is meant to be lived out in community with others. And with all our differences, we're to work on the meaning and application of Scripture together. Do we believe we're all in this together, or is it each person for themself?
Do I really believe God wants to work in my life through others? Do I believe that we believers are in this together, each of us having our part? Do I listen well to the stories of how God has worked in their lives? Am I wisely transparent about who I really am and my own struggles? Do I share my own testimony of God's working?
More wisdom than briefly mentioned above is to be found in this chapter and book, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, chapter 5, "Get Yourself Some Haverim." Next week chapter 6, "Rabbi, Teach Us to Pray."