Hebrews 10 vs 25.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Although we are in some sense still in the grip of the pandemic and things seem unfortunately to be on the slide towards a resurgence of the virus it is interesting to hear of people’s experience of “lockdown”. Some were bored by the monotony and some, most, filled the day with endless cups of coffee and tea and the associated biscuits for which we are now paying the cost and bearing the weight, literally! Others, the few perhaps, as I heard this morning took a more positive approach and used the time to take exercise and control their diet. As a result one person I heard of lost a stone in weight.
Transferred to the context of church that difference in approach to lockdown was and is evident; some missed the end of services and the opportunity to meet together and some of those still shielding still do. Others never missed it, and that is my concern, if I can share honestly with you; my worry that as life eventually and hopefully soon returns to what approximates to normal, some people who joined the regular meetings of the church will never find their way back into fellowship. Some may end up forever sermon surfers hearing even learning from the internet ministry of this or that big name preacher, but never in fellowship or growing spiritually or serving through the local church, the body of Christ.
Clearly this is not something that is a 21st century experience but stretches right back to the New Testament era. The reason for the absence of those the writer had in mind is not clear whether persecution or disillusionment but there is some evidence, according to commentators, that in similar situations in Rome economic factors were uppermost.
Why is the author concerned? Why is it a worry today? The danger is not that the church will peter out as people peel away. Jesus said that he would build his church and he will. The world doesn’t end at Dundonald or Donaghadee, the border or Bundoran and while in the west the church may be in decline if measured only in numbers, across the world Christ’s kingdom is growing. No, the concern must be for the individual, for those whose faith was once vibrant and living which now through neglect or the cares of the world is burning low and in danger of burning out. At that point the exhortation of the writer of this letter comes into its own. Let us not give up meeting together.
Clearly if this is recorded in God’s word there is value and instruction in it, God the Holy Spirit knows the point and the benefit of Christians meeting regularly in fellowship and worship. Yes, perhaps we need to think critically about our approach to church and our attitude to one another bearing in mind the previous verse but there’s no getting away from it the church is for our good and God’s glory.