“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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 10:23-25.
These verses strike hard at the heart of any Christian who will take the time to meditate on them. The author of Hebrews makes it clear that the holding fast of our confession, the stirring up of one another to good works, and the encouragement that we are to draw from our brothers and sisters in Christ are rooted firmly in the corporate gathering of the body of Christ. I struggle to grasp the thought process of those who profess Christ but who continually neglect this most vital public assembly. The fact that so many Christians do not view the habitual skipping of corporate worship as disobedience to the One Who shed His blood for their redemption is a sad testimony to the weakness of their faith.
This truth was made personal to me this past Sunday. We had gotten a serious amount of snow (for our area) on Saturday, and it was going to be very hard for our folks to get out Sunday for services. We considered cancelling I don’t believe there are any brownie points in Heaven for getting there early because you died while fighting your way to church. It was a tough decision. Ultimately, we alerted the body that we were going to cancel Sunday School but still have our normal worship services, and for them to use discretion in their decision to come out. I knew that this would result in a smaller crowd on Sunday. We have group who just would not be able to get out (by the way, making it or not making it is not a test of spirituality, except for those who seek any excuse possible to get out of coming. For them it only further reveals the lack of passion for Christ that already exists).
And so on Saturday night I felt a burden. My initial thought was that I would struggle with being apathetic about the next day’s service because it would be such a small group. As a pastor, I was surprised a little when this didn’t happen. Instead I felt a weight. At 10:00 the following morning, a group of brothers and sisters were going to gather. They were going to go through significant effort to get there. The music was going to be put together at the last-minute because our music team wasn’t going to be able to lead as planned. And they would gather to hear a word from the Lord. No half-hearted, “I knew there would only be a few people here so I’ll just share a few devotional thoughts” type of message. They would come to worship, fellowship, and have their hearts challenged by the publicly proclaimed Word. In that moment I fell more deeply in love with those people. And I went over my notes and my text just a few more times than normal.
As it turned out, we have about half of our normal group on Sunday morning, and our normal group on Sunday night. It was sweet. We sang together, read the Word, took time to pray for one of our missionaries, and my brothers and sisters heard the Word proclaimed. I was glad we didn’t cancel. Not because it showed how spiritually tough we all were, but because I need what my flock brings to the table. I need to be challenged. I need to be stirred, and I need to corporately worship. And when I miss that (for whatever reason), I feel like I have missed something that is vital to who I am as a believer. I love my little church, and l love seeing God work in our midst.