I imagine that I will have more than one question to answer, or more than one follow-up to post about this post. This first one is to answer my friend Jane's question about gathering together with other believers. I used eSword to study this verse - Hebrews 10:25 - that says this:
Heb 10:25 Not3361 forsaking1459 the3588 assembling of ourselves together,1997, 1438 as2531 the manner1485 of some5100 is; but235 exhorting3870 one another: and2532 so much5118 the more,3123 as3745 ye see991 the3588 day2250 approaching.1448
I felt that inevitably this verse would come up - so I thought I would just cut to the chase. While this verse does say that we should not forsake assembling as believers, it does not say that on Sunday from 11:00 – 12:15 and on Wednesday from 7:00 – 8:00 and if you really want brownie points you can make it to Sunday School an hour before church, or a Sunday evening service. It says to get together as believers, encourage each other. Make it a habit – but not a ritual. But what we’ve done is make it a ritual – and we use this verse to place guilt on each other.
Here’s how the same verse is interpreted in The Message:
Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshipping together as some do, but spurring each other on especially as we see the Day approaching.
Let’s see how inventive we can be…..are you encouraged because I fill the pew behind you for one hour on a Sunday and Wednesday night? Maybe we never even speak – and sit in stony silence waiting for our shot in the arm, but we’re doing it at the same time. How much more full can the fellowship believers be than that?
When I think of worshipping with other believers, I am reminded that my purpose, the reason I am alive is to worship, and that any opportunity I have to be with other Christians praying, talking about – reading – chewing on the Word, giving spiritual counsel to a neighbor while we’re walking together or over coffee, riding down the road in the car with my kids singing worship songs to Jesus – these are all true to the spirit of that verse. For our family, we are considering opening our home to a house church – but we’re waiting on the Lord for direction. Right now we just need to detox .
I know every church is not like this – just the majority. What a blessing if this is not your observation of your local body.
What we do and call it “fellowship” or “worship” so much of the time is a performance. We want the approval of everyone but God. I know that what we are doing will not be approved of by everyone. But it is not anyone’s approval that I am after. I am coloring outside the lines. It may intimidate some. That’s okay. It would’ve intimidated me not long ago. My back is to the church, but my eyes are still on Jesus.
Thanks Jane for the great question – I need to work this out in my discussion with others as well. A lot of these things are unarticulated thoughts. I appreciate the feedback, and the non-judgmental way in which you asked the question.