My youngest son had just started his very first wage-paying job. He came home from work each night smelling like a Quarter Pounder with Cheese.
When he started the job, he requested Wednesday evenings off so that he could continue with his youth group Bible study. But the boss, whose name may have been Ronald, just ignored him.
The next week my son wrote out a schedule of the hours he could work, and omitted Wednesday – and yet, again his appeal was cast asunder.
He didn’t want to forfeit the study so he asked the group to pray that the manager would respect his request.
The next time he reported to work, the boss approached him and said, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t accommodated your Wednesday request. I will fix it in the future.”
The boy exclaimed, “Wow that was fast!”
I have to say that I was one excited dad. My son prayed and saw God answer in a spectacular and expeditious way. He experienced God. Awesome!
But I was just as excited that he made his church involvement a priority. He was willing to sacrifice the job (along with his McNugget discount) to continue meeting with his brothers and sisters in Christ.
You don’t see much of that kind of commitment much anymore.
Covid has cleaned the church pews faster than sanitizer. But the attrition started long before that. The church is being drained by weekend sports tournaments, work schedules, late night Saturdays and that lazy paralysis us that grips us on Sunday morning.
They must have faced similar issues in the first century, because the book of Hebrews says, “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near.” – Heb 10:24-25
Believers were abandoning the time they met together as a church. It was a habit, meaning they did it on a regular basis. The Scripture says, “Don’t do it!”
Yes, but church attendance doesn’t open the doors to heaven to us. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. So why do church?
– It is something that we give to God!
In the Old Testament, the people of God were required by law to attend the worship gatherings of Israel. Track the journeys of Jesus and you will find that He was consistent in his participation. Evidently it is extremely important to God that His people gather for the purpose of worship. Why He would want my voluntary wimpy worship? I have no clue – but He does.
– It is also something that He gives to us.
A worship service is like standing on a mountaintop and taking in a breath of God. The lyrics of the songs awaken us to the awesomeness of His being and warm us with reminders of His love and mercy.
Biblical preaching spiritually comforts, educates and provokes us. It equips us as spouses, parents, laborers and neighbors that we might succeed.
And then there is the benefit that we get from doing life with one another.
The Hebrews passage tells us that we need to gather to spur each other on – to encourage each other to love and to do good works.
Love feels like it has entered the ice age these days. Hard heart disease is sweeping the culture. We vaccinate ourselves from that kind of crass hardness by meeting with and being with each other in church. (but it takes more than 2 shots)
It’s like soothing aloe after a day in the windswept, sunbaked Rockies. Red, chapped, cracked skin is restored and made soft again.
The passage says we also gather because the “day is drawing near.” He was speaking of the day of Christ’s return.
Who isn’t wondering if the turbulent times we face are fig tree signs of Christ’s return? They may or may not be, but we take on the times with courage and support when we do it together. That’s why we do church!
So maybe it’s time we abandon the abandoning – and get reinvolved!
A PRAYER: Lord clear my schedule and my heart that I can be with you and your people next Sunday
All Scripture references from NETBible®