by Rick Taillefer
How important is the church and gathering together? Let us consider this from the only wise and true God’s viewpoint, before we consider ours, which is possibly flawed. To understand how important the church gathering is to God, we must go to the person of Jesus Christ. The Father sent His Son to glorify the Father and to save His people. “You shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:21). When God saves His people, He brings them together into a body, which is the church. (Rom. 12:4-5) Our world is individualistic, and we may carry that God opposing viewpoint into the church .
God’s viewpoint for the church is that she would be united, standing together, and loving one another as God loves the church through Jesus Christ. However, this is much different than what we see lived out in the church. What do we see? Many arrive just on time for the start of the service, and once the service is over, they leave. They have “done church” but have they “done church” as God intended? What does “doing church” mean to God? Hebrews 10:24-25 captures the essence of God’s intended purpose.
Hebrews 10:24-25, “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.”
When does meeting together take place? Some may think of coffee, dinner, small groups, and other various
times of getting together with other believers. Although this is meeting together, when examined in light of all that is to take place amongst the church, we must go beyond these times. We are to think of the time when the whole church is to be gathered together. This time is Sunday, the Lord’s day. It is the day designated for God’s body to gather together to worship Him. While the body is gathered together to worship the Lord, they are also to show love to one another. Obeying the Biblical command “let us consider how to stir up one another” helps us accomplish this purpose. “Consider” means to look upon and think about. The objects of this looking and thinking are the other members of the body of Christ. This is the opposite viewpoint of the individualistic world in which we live. The reason for this activity is to stir up others to “love and good works.” This is needed also because others need “encouraging”.
In order to stir up others, we need to know the cause of their discouragement. We must ask them questions. We need to talk with them. Remember, this is talking about “us”, the whole body, and not just a specific group or person within the body. This means being able to talk in an open, caring manner with every person within the body, not just a few. In order to encourage others to love and good works, we need to talk to them about important issues that go beyond the weather, family, and work. We ought to talk to others about spiritual matters. The spiritual matters will likely be related to family, work, and other circumstances. Nevertheless, the conversation will deal with their hearts in matters of serving God and others in their family, at work, and in the church. To get to this level, we need to go beyond the surface to feelings, thoughts and actions, and discuss them in the light of Scripture.
Scripture is the only true light we have for evaluating love and good works. We may have definitions for love and good works, however, if our definitions do not conform to God’s word they are deficient. Love fulfills the law according to Jesus, and is therefore doing what is right in God’s eyes in any given situation. Good works are contrasted with ungodliness in Scripture. Therefore, good works is doing that which is holy or dedicated to God. Love and good works go beyond the action and involves the purpose and the Person to whom they are directed.
Knowing the things that display love and good works means knowing God’s word. This was the expectation of the writer of Hebrews, because those to whom he wrote should have been teachers by now. (Heb. 5:12)
Christians are to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God’s word to encourage their brothers and sisters, to stir up others to love and good works, and to teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. The goal of stirring one another up to love and good works is endurance to the end. The devil and the world wage war against Christians. This can lead to discouragement. In Hebrews, some departed from the faith because of discouragement. God’s design is that Christians will be encouraged by the preaching of His word through the church and by their obedience to the Word. By these activities other believers are encouraged and demonstrate care to one another. As the Day approaches, we need to encourage each other continually to endure, persevere, and fight the good fight of faith even during discouragement. It is important to God that His people do this. This is why He brings believers together into one body in Christ Jesus His Son. Jesus saved us and gave Himself as an example by not serving Himself but sacrificially serving the body. Let us do the same.