...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 ESV Every church encounters people who have given up, or are tempted to give up, meeting together with God’s people. At any given time, just about every church has some people who are in danger of drifting away and no longer participating in the life of the church. To do so is to directly disobey Hebrews 10:24-25, which warn us not to neglect local church fellowship and participation.
From the Church Leaders.com blog post of 11 November, here (abridged) are two reasons you may be tempted to neglect meeting together with God’s people.
- You Forget What You Bring. Hebrews 10:25 warns Christians against leaving local church fellowship, and the verse immediately prior gives the reason. As Christians, we all equally bear the responsibility to stir up one another to love and good works. We are to provoke one another to act in love and we are to provoke one another to promote good works. And the simple fact is that we cannot do these things if we are not together.
When you are tempted to disassociate from the local church, whether permanently or semi-permanently or even for a lazy Sunday where you just can’t be bothered, you have forgotten what you bring to the people of your church. You have neglected to understand or believe that you, yes you!, are a crucial part of the body of Christ. You have a gift to bring, and the church is only complete when you bring it and use it.
- You Forget What You Need. If it is true that God has gifted you to be a part of the whole, there is an important implication: God has gifted them as well. You are incomplete without your church. God has not so gifted you of all people that you can thrive and grow without the gifts he has given to others. You are part of the body, but only a small and singular part of it. Unless you can imagine your thumb striking off on its own and building a life for itself, or unless you can imagine your appendix seceding from the body and thriving, you shouldn’t imagine yourself leaving local church fellowship.
In this way, neglecting to meet with God’s people is a sign of overwhelming and outrageous pride. You have somehow determined either that the gifts God has given others are of no real consequence to you, or you have determined that you are so gifted that you can happily survive without. The reality, of course, is that God has made Christians to thrive and survive only in community. Lone Christians are dead Christians.
God made you to be part of a body—a body you need, and a body that needs you. You need the rest of that body to function well. So, don’t forget what you bring to the body and what you get from the body.
The Apostle Paul says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom 12:6)
Rev. Robert Chew