Saturday, June 23, 2012

Do Not Forsake Gathering Together

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
~Hebrews 10:23-25

In his letter to Jewish Christians, the unknown author of the book of Hebrews encourages his readers to do five things in response to the precious truth that we now have direct access to God due to Christ satisfying God’s wrath with His death in our place for our sins. Four of these are positive as the people are instructed to draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith (10:22), hold fast the confession of our hope (v. 23), consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds (v. 24), and encouraging one another (v. 25). However, notice that one of these commands is placed in the negative. They are told to not forsake our own assembling together (v. 25). Basically, do not forget about gathering together for worship. This must have become a problem for several in the church. In fact, the author points out that this forsaking had become the habit of some.

The author doesn’t tell us the reason that several in this church had quit joining others for worship. It could have been due to the fear of persecution that the church faced during the time. I often wonder how many today would even continue to confess Christ, nonetheless go to church, if they faced death for bearing Christ’s name. (It might turn out that there are much fewer true Christians in the nation than we realize.) Perhaps some decided to stop coming to worship because they had gone back to their life before coming to Christ. One of the main problems that the author deals with in this letter are these Christians who are drifting back to the former practices and traditions of the Judaism that they had left since they realized that Christ had fulfilled such rituals. Or the reason for their neglect could have been due to laziness. Earlier the author warned the people about being sluggish (6:12).

It appears that we have a similar problem in our churches today. Many believers also have been forsaking our own assembling together. Several do not make the time to gather with their brothers and sisters in Christ to worship our great God. It may also be due to going back to old sinful habits of the life they left behind. It may be on account of their own sluggishness. I think one of the biggest problems today is that God does not have the priority in our lives as He should; as He must. People claim to be too busy to make it to church. (Yet they never appear to be too busy for their favorite sports team, television program, or hobby.) The excuse itself does not matter. Remember that the author doesn’t even mention any of the underlying reasons for the neglect of those he references here. The greater concern centered around the issue of their failure to continue gathering for worship regularly.

Worship alongside God’s people under the authority of God’s Word bringing glory to God should not be easily dismissed. It should not occupy the place towards the bottom of our list of priorities. In addition to how vital it is concerning our own spiritual growth, it benefits one another. God never intended for the Christian life to be lived alone. He ordained for Christians to grow and serve together in a body called the Church. A body with many members each given special gifts for a special part to play (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Instead of forsaking this gathering together, the author says his readers should encourage one another. Our worship together as a body on Sunday morning serves as a great way to do just this. It is hard to encourage one another when you are home by yourself!

I invite you to consider gathering together with God’s people this Sunday morning in case you have fallen away from it. For those who do make it out every week, I encourage you to continue such commitment for the glory of God. Let us not forsake the habit of gathering together as several did when this letter was written and others do today but encourage other as each day we are a step closer to Christ’s return.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Lee

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