“And let us consider how to stir up one 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, ESV)
Where is summer going? My secretary sent me the reminder a few minutes ago that she needed an article for our July newsletter. I quickly glanced at my calendar and noticed that Sunday is, in fact, the last Sunday of the month. We are already concluding our sermon series from James – “Twelve Keys for Faithful Living”, which is available as a podcast. << Keys for Faithful Living >> Next up is Daniel – “Living Faithfully in Hard Times.”
My morning devotionals included this passage from Hebrews. In fact, I posted it as a needed reminder to a post and comment on social media. My post was an attempt to reach out, to be encouraging. More and more, I am convinced that Christians are struggling in their walk with God because they are not receiving the encouragement of other Christians. Strength comes in numbers: Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Assessing the Problem
The problem is becoming a pandemic; it is not just local! We are attempting to ‘do it’ alone. Moreover, we are not encouraging others as we should. “Christians” are not meeting with other Christians on a daily basis (cf. Acts 2:46). In fact, many have not “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers” (i.e., worship – Acts 2:42). In the words of the writer of Hebrews, not only are they “neglecting to meet together,” but for many missing worship services has become their “habit.”
Some have recently responded to me, “I love Jesus, but I just can’t stand the church.” Or, “I would love to come to church, but it is full of hypocrites.” You have probably heard these and many more! My father once told me that an excuse is “the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.”
Therefore, my question is how can you truly love the groom if you don’t love the bride? The church is ‘the bride, the wife of the lamb’ (cf. Rev. 19:6-8; 21:9). Paul tells us in Ephesians that “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (cf. Eph. 5:25-30). Elsewhere, he reminds us that we are “God’s temple” and that, as the Church, we make up a ‘body’ that is a unit composed of many parts. Listen to 1 Cor. 12:25-26: “…there should be no division in the body… its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it.”
My desire is to be encouraging, not to make anyone feel guilty. Though you hurt yourself when you are absent from the body, you are not just hurting yourself. The rest of the body (the Church) suffers from your absence. “Now is the time…” It is too late to change the past; we have no control over the future. We have NOW!