We talk a lot about church attendance. We ought to know how important it is for Christians to gather together for worship. But it’s so much more than putting bodies in the seats. It is important that we understand that God has given us good reasons for wanting to come and worship Him. It’s all based in what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is likely that most members of the Lord’s church are at least familiar with the words of Hebrews 10:25, and many can probably quote the verse.
“…not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more as ye see the day drawing night” (Heb. 10:25 ASV)
The verse is so well known, and has been spoken about so many times from our pulpits, that many Christians have come up with excuses to explain how this verse doesn’t apply to them. It is often said that the “forsaking” of the assembly involves completely abandoning the church, and does not refer to those who still attend some of the services of the church. It seems to be believed that it is ok to neglect to meet together with the saints on some occasions, so long as we do not completely abandon the assembly.
However, the admonitions surrounding that charge in the first part of verse 25 begs to differ with that position. In the latter part of the verse, rather than forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, we are expected to exhort (encourage, edify) one another. And in the preceding verse, the Word of God reads,
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…” (Heb. 10:24 ESV)
Again, it seems clear that there is an expectation that we ought to be doing whatever we can to encourage our brethren.
When a person willingly chooses not to gather together with the saints, they are missing that encouragement. A person cannot be encouraged by their brethren if they are not surrounded by their brethren. Likewise, a person cannot be an encouragement to the church unless he is actively participating in the body. In a third place, what does it say about one’s dedication to the Lord and His church when we willingly choose to be doing something else rather than gathering with the saints? Jesus warned of the dangers of being “lukewarm” in Revelation 3:15-16. To the church in Laodicea he said:
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16 ESV)
Many translations use the word “vomit” instead of spit in verse 16. That paints a pretty disgusting image, but a lukewarm church is disgusting to the Lord. When we choose to be absent from the assembly, what does that say about us? Let’s seek to always be an encouragement to our brethren, and to show that we are not lukewarm in our love for the Lord.