One of his directives is; “And 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.” (Hebrews 10:24,25).
It is interesting to note that these verses come under a heading in the chapter entitled; “A Call to Persevere in Faith”. One of the meanings for the word ‘persevere’ found in http://www.dictionary.com is; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement, continue steadfastly.
We can connect the dot; body of believers, to the next dot; keeping the faith, and believing in His purpose for us, but far too often we allow the discouragement of life to separate us from people. This is where we can veer off the path and may disconnect. This is the place where the enemy waits. Wander off alone, and we are an easy target for false everything! We cannot persevere alone, “for every goal reached there is a friend in the wings”.
Many may argue that we can declare our faith and remain in obedience to Christ without a church body by practicing church at home, or we can find the Body within the fellowship of a small group Bible Study. These practices enhance our collective gathering, but should not be relied on alone. The danger is; our preference as opposed to God’s wisdom. The very idea of practicing faith without the Body reveals our inability to trust that God knows best. Our decision to make our own church can come from a place of arrogance, which uncovers an unwillingness to be accountable, first to Christ, secondly – to each other. Please be very careful and test everything with what the Word of God says (1 Thessalonians 5:14 – 23).
By neglecting to gather together we disobey Christ, announce our distrust, insult the cross. How do we learn to love one another if we are alone? Further, defaulting to independent choice, and creating a family we are comfortable with is trusting in our own strength, and the danger of a clique or a prejudicial group may follow.
There have been some very discouraging events in my life lately. I have found it difficult at times to want to go to church, because it means I may need to engage in conversation. As I struggle with my own weaknesses I turn to God and ask him to put one foot in front of the other, that I might obey his commands. I get up and go and join my family in Christ, and look for Christ in the crowd. I get up and go and join my family in Christ and listen for His voice, and He never disappoints. The times I have hurt the most and have chosen to participate in worship has revealed the meaning of ‘sacrificial praise’, and the mystery of Christ has become clearer.
The enemy may tell you that you don’t belong, that you’re not quite ready to be part of an elite social club. This is a lie from Satan. The body of Christ is not an elite social club, dig into God’s Word and find out what God says about the Body.
And have you ever considered; you might be the face that someone sees Christ in? Do not stay away any longer. Let us persevere together.
1 Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.