“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrew 10: 23-25 (NIV)
Friends, the “Day” is approaching—-for the world and for us individually. Today, as in the first century, some of the believers decided that they did not need to meet every Sunday morning, so they got lazy. But what does the author of Hebrews say? We need to meet together each week for the purposes of encouraging each other and to hold together. Tough times are still coming after this pandemic! We live on a hostile planet when nature itself is at work to destroy us.
And so we’re admonished to come together on Sundays. We hold these times of worship assembling on Sundays for at least three reasons:
Maintaining a relationship with Him,
Sustaining our relationship with each other,
Reminding ourselves of the truths we already know but are prone to forget.
Maintenance is not a thing that happens automatically! Try operating a tractor or truck or car or any piece of equipment without maintenance! It takes time and determination. Going to church each Sunday might be a habit, but it requires, at times the decision that you are going to come and that you are going to ignore the enemies attempt to give you easy excuses for not coming to worship with other believers. We need to be here for our own spiritual building up, to be sure, but also to build up others and to allow ourselves to be challenged to return to the things we knew were true but have drifted from.
Imagining your spouse or your child asking you if you loved them and you retorted, “Of course I do! I already told you that ten years ago!” We need to remind Him, others and ourselves of things that we believe and need to say or hear again. Church offers that to us.
We do not know when “the day” of Christ’s return is, but it is approaching. Bad as things might seem today, more calamity is coming and He will return—-ready or not. Like it or not, my time on this earth and yours is slipping away.You have NEVER been as old as you are today, and you will NEVER be this young again—time is moving and we will stand before Him one day—-for some of us, quite soon. Are we fellowshipping with others and reminding ourselves and others of the inevitability of us passing from this world the the eternal one?
But if you are still unconvinced that you need to worship, somewhere, each Sunday, here are some things to consider:
1. Jesus went each week. Jesus went! That’s good enough to stop any argument about how a person does not need to go to church to worship God. Jesus went, for crying our loud! The Bible tells us that “as usual” or another translation of the Bible says “as was His custom” Jesus went to the place of worship. He did not go fishing or hiking or watch a gladiator fight. If He were here today I would bet my life that he would not sit home to watch church on TV. He went to church—and so should we unless we are physically unable.
What would Jesus do if He were in town today? Jesus would go to church; we as followers of Christ should do the same. If we take seriously our fellowship of Christ….if He is truly our standard-bearer, then we should go to church regularly. Our destiny is to be conformed to the image, habits and character of Jesus—and it was His practice to attend worship each week.
2. There’s no better habit and discipline to acquire than requiring yourself go to Christian fellowship and worship each week. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship. But we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.”
3. Little eyes are watching—-going to church is a witness and affirmation to what I talk about! Going to church is a positive example. When you go each Sunday, you’re setting an example to your children and your spouse. You’re setting an example that other people notice. It is an example that becomes an inspiration for others. People who are trying to make their lives better, people who want a positive change are going to be impacted by an example of someone who is committed to regular church attendance. For those of you who are married, it’s a positive example to your spouse. For the people around you, whether it’s your friends or your co-workers, whether it’s your family, when they see that you have a commitment that is leading you to living a better life - that is a positive example that other people can follow.
4. It Is Important For Corporate Fellowship
Look again at what the Bible says, “Some have gotten out of the habit. We should not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other.” The church is an encouraging place. We all need encouragement. Life is hard for all of us right now. We all run into various kinds of challenges; health problems, financial issues, conflict within our families. We have an opportunity to encourage one another and that is part of what church is about. Sunday service is where fellowship begins. Being in classes, groups and serving is where you get to know people on a deeper level. But it starts on Sunday; the launching point to fellowship and community is in church services. Every Sunday that you come, there are going to be people who are looking for you, wondering if you’re there. People will miss you. And the longer and more consistently you come, the more you will be missed. Because the more that you are in church, the more you are involved, the more people miss you and notice that you’re not around. It is a marvelous thing to be a part of a local church, it is like having a much larger family.
5. It Is Essential For Growth
It is absolutely essential for spiritual growth to regularly attend church. If you’re one of those folks that go to the gym to work out regularly, I am convinced that the most important day to work out is the day you don’t want to! Similarly, it’s probably the service you missed you needed the most. Some folks will argue that they can worship God on the golf course or fishing or watching a service on TV. But I doubt, and I would quickly ask this: “Do you?” Do you really worship God while you are hunting or fishing or golfing or watching television? At a local church you will be challenged, motivated, inspired to go higher than you’ve gone and perhaps also held accountable by brothers and sisters that love you. You can’t get that from a golf ball or a TV evangelist.
Fellowship in a church allows us to live a life that is better and greater because it is obedient to His commands and puts your life in sync with God and His purpose and plan for your life. We are reminded why we’re here on this earth and are encouraged to serve, to give, and to do those things which give us joy and a complete sense of being alive.
Let me add, it’s not just to be fed that we fellowship on Sundays, but more importantly to be food for others. God’s purpose for us coming to church is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us as go back to our homes, work and towns. Beware of saying that you not going to church because you can’t find a place where you are properly fed! You are supposed to be food to others—-not just a fat grape.
God’s intention for us is not to merely attend church to feel good about ourselves or store up spiritual insight to hold onto for a rainy day! His purpose is to remake us exactly like Jesus Christ, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts.
There’s a story of a woman (Mary), that poured an “alabaster jar or pure nard” on the head of Jesus—a very holy and outrageous act of love. Nard, an aromatic ointment, was very expensive and the woman was roughly criticized for the waste. After all, it was pointed out, that nard could have been sold and the money used to help the poor. Jesus rebuked her tormentors and told them that she had done a very good thing and that what she did would not be forgotten.
I love these kinds of stories because they show Jesus turning common assumptions and accepted mores on their heads. Yes, yes, the money used for the nard could have been sold to help poor people. But Jesus probably knew that none of those condemning the woman would have used the nard for the poor or to anoint His head—they would have kept the money! “Fine, why don’t you go out and sell something valuable that you have, such as this woman possessed, and give the money to the poor?”, is what someone should have said! They were frauds and Jesus knew it.
But more importantly, this woman was honoring the King of Kings and Lord of Lords with the best she had. She gave God’s Son her ultimate possession—not what was left over. That’s how it’s supposed to be in life and worship. We give Him our best… and He takes care of the rest. I give Him the best time of the day (the morning) to seek Him, I give Him the best (first payment) of my paycheck, I offer Him my highest devotion, attention and commitment—and He looks after me (Matthew 6:33). That’s the plan.
This woman did an excessive, abandoned, and over-the-top thing for our Lord. Praise God that she did and that there are still people that do the same. May God provide witness of utter abandonment to God at our church and may we all be incurably infected.
Let me provide one final reason we need to be in church——personally accountability. We need to come together because each one of us tend to stray and falter when we are out of fellowship. He did not create us to be alone! He made us and then redeemed us to live together in community! We err and become alienated from Him if we refuse to be accountable, one to the other. The greatest threats to the cause of Christ are not those outside the church, but those who claim to be within the church but refuse Christian fellowship and be held ecclesiastical accountability.
So consider these things from which Christian fellowship can protect us:
Being in a church that offers Bible based, Spirit-breathed theology,. keeps us out of trouble! The danger is choosing to believe every crazy new idea that you see on Google search or hear about. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings, ….” Hebrews 13:8-9. Is what you have heard credible, reasonable, in line with scripture and are those that you have submitted to spiritually able to corroborate your thoughts and opinion? Or are you on your own—-totally independent of any kind of accountability?
A friend who drank too much but made it a point to not get too involved with her church. The pastor knew if, as did the elders, but no one would confront her. She was somewhat under the radar screen. My friend deliberately attended irregularly and avoided any kind of meeting that would hold her accountable for her life, choice and habits. She never grew and eventually went down a terrible path of loss and destruction.
A poor witness
Better to have a brother or sister tell you the truth than to force God to “Come downstairs and set things straight!”Peter told the Christians in exile in 1 Peter 2:12 to “keep conduct among the Gentiles honorable” so the unbelievers could see God’s goodness in them and glorify Him. What does your life say about the One you serve? Your life should communicate the gospel, not just your words. Do excellent work at home, work, or school. Love the people around you. Proclaim the gospel through your words and actions.
A bad attitude
We all have it, but Christian fellowship can dispel it. It is true that hanging around positive people will eventually change your attitude for the better. Such people tend to always have an unexplainable sort of happiness that goes on no matter what you say to them. It would be true to say that they view life in a “glass half full” perspective. You give them a negative and they quickly turn it to a positive. You might say a nasty or hurtful word to them that would on normal circumstances break a person but they will reply it with a nice word. Such people are always much fun to hang around and especially when you’re blue. You need to hang around such people if your attitude is to be changed. Within a short matter of time, you will be as jovial and as happy as they are. Such company will teach you how to live a positive life, leg go of petty issues that previously bothered you and how to only let the positive words flow from you as well as dealing with the negative. You will find this in a church.
Slipping back into the world
We all know about this—we need each other as iron needs iron to keep sharp. The concept of “iron sharpening iron” obviously implies at least two pieces of iron. It would be impossible for one tool to become sharper without the presence of the other. Left alone, both blades would be dull and quite useless. This simple Proverb illustrates an important biblical principle. God expects us to live and serve in a community of other believers (see Hebrews 10:25), and He desires for us to build loving and growing relationships with others (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8).The process of helping someone else improve their effectiveness absolutely requires a positive relationship. Earlier in this same chapter (Proverbs 6:4) it says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”It is far better to accept Godly advice and love-felt criticism from someone we know that cares about us, than it is from a stranger. We want to know that the person giving us the counsel has our best interest at heart. Friends may indeed “wound” us at times, but we can understand and appreciate their genuine motives. Conversely, the “kisses” from enemies fall flat and we can imagine their devious hypocrisy.That’s why it is so important for each of us to build growing relationships with others in life. We all need people who can help us rub off the hard edges and who honestly have our best interests in mind when they do it. You find this at church. If you are not growing, ask yourself this question: Are you attending church regularly?