And let us consider how to stir one up another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 – Scripture of the Day (March 17, 2014)
Yesterday morning, I arrived at the church building about 40 minutes before Bible class started. There was a message on the answering machine from a dear sister in Christ who had called at 3 a.m. after going to the emergency room. She had called simply to inform me that she wouldn’t be at church that morning. Something she said at the end of the message stuck with me: “Wish I could be there. I’ll miss you guys.”
Here’s something for us in the church of Christ to think about. Lost amidst all the study and debate about whether it’s truly forsaking the assembly if you purposefully miss Sunday morning Bible classes, Wednesday night Bible classes, Sunday evening worship services, and gospel meeting assemblies, or if you have to work during an assembly time, or if you go on vacation, etc., is our focus on the biblical purpose of our meeting together in the first place as shown in today’s scripture. And on what should our focus be? Encouraging each other and edifying each other. Stirring up each other to love and good works.
I see a sharp contrast between the brother or sister in Christ who either reaches for any and every excuse to not come to church or who will critique the faithfulness of those who do not come as often as them…and this sister in Christ who had to miss one Sunday’s worth of assemblies because she was sick and yet while in her pain felt the need to call in the middle of the night not to ask for our prayers but simply to tell us that she was sorry she couldn’t come and would miss seeing all of us.
We “go to church” not only to worship God, but also to get our spiritual batteries recharged. Our batteries are re-charged not only by our praise in song, the prayers we give to our Redeemer, the memorial Supper we eat as we remember Christ’s sacrifice, the cheerful giving of our means to further the work of the church, and the biblical message we hear. Our batteries are also re-charged by the smiles we give to each other, the cheerful pats on the back, the right hand of fellowship given in a friendly handshake, the “holy kisses” on the cheek given in love and friendship, the laughter and smiles shared by God’s family as they briefly leave the sin-filled darkness of the world in which they struggle and toil throughout the week and bask in the light of fellow believers who are trying to serve God just like them.
Not only do we need the strength that comes from worship and praise, not only do we need the strength that comes from Bible study and prayer, but we also need the strength that comes from each other. So let’s ask ourselves some questions as the next Sunday/Wednesday/gospel meeting night/special assembly time approaches:
- When I walk through those auditorium doors, do I expect to be encouraged above all else…or am I looking for someone else to encourage first and foremost?
- When I walk through those auditorium doors, is building up every person I see my top priority…or is having my own wants and idiosyncrasies met by those around me what I care about the most?
- As the next assembly time approaches, am I selfishly looking for excuses to stay at home…or am I excited about yet another opportunity to not only worship God with brethren but also to see my brethren and build them up?
- Whatever our answers to the above questions may be, let’s ask ourselves why.