Today, Christians use all sorts of reasons as to why they don’t attend their church gatherings. It has, by and large, become one of the last things of importance in their list of priorities in life. Other things come first and to make a sacrifice to gather seems almost fanatical.
When I became a Christian, I made the decision that Sundays were the day for Christian fellowship and family. That meant that I was not working on Sundays. Now, as a pastor, I refuse to do work on Sunday that doesn’t directly bring spiritual gain. In other words, I refuse to work a 9-5 job on Sundays. I’ve made it a priority in my life to teach and gather on Sunday for the sake of Christ who commands us in His word not to fail to gather together.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
When we look at this passage it becomes glaringly apparent that gathering with the church is not an option but a commandment. The command to love and encourage others to good works cannot be fulfilled if we isolate and fail to gather. In addition, as we see the coming of the Lord approaching, observing the signs of the times, we should be gathering even more so.
The one thing that Satan loves to do is make sure that Christians do not get together and worship the God of the universe. The Lord has promised that He would be in the midst of where two or three are gathered and he can’t stand that. He can’t stand praise going up to God, or Christians being strengthened for ministry, or prayer being offered for the broken and sick, or encouragement being given for the downtrodden or discouraged. Like a roaring lion, he goes about separating them from the pack, ready to pounce and devour that solitary one who has decided that the protection and strength in numbers of the saints is not necessary, important, or that it’s optional. It isn’t.
I’m reminded of a story of British hymnist Frances Ridley Havergal. She once wrote out a list of eight reasons for going to church, particularly on rainy days. Out of those eight, there are three that are simplistically profound:
1. I might lose out on the prayers and the sermon that would have done me great good.
2. Bad weather reveals on what foundation my faith is built; it will prove how much I love Christ. True love rarely fails to keep an appointment.
3. I don’t know how many more Sundays God may give me and it would be poor preparation for my first Sunday in heaven to have slighted my last Sunday on earth.
There’s an old saying that the great task of the church is not to get sinners into heaven but to get saints out of bed. There’s much truth to this.
Part of the reason why many saints don’t come to church is because of outright laziness, something many would never do if it was their job because it would jeopardize their financial and physical livelihood. Their spiritual livelihood is secondary and too often an afterthought which is just backwards.
Another reason is spiritual apathy and indifference towards the things of God. The church is treated as an organization instead of what it is, an organism. A community. A family. This can be linked directly with the fact that there are too many unsaved people in the church. They’re constantly being invited to attend when the Word of God makes it clear that unbelievers have no business in the church.
Let us make a commitment to our spiritual family, our eternal brothers and sisters, to gather every week as we still have the ability to do so. Let us come together in love and unity of the faith to give God glory, worship, and bless the Lord and one another.
The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD. (Isaiah 38:20)