It is clear as we read the Bible that God designed us to live dependently upon Him and interdependently upon one another. We cannot nor should not seek to navigate life on our own. We need each other. This why in this section that promotes perseverance and endurance the author of Hebrews offers these words, “Not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
I have never met another human being who refused encouragement. I have never met another human being who said to me that they could go the rest of their lives without ever being encouraged again. Encouragement is vital to our lives. We cannot live for long without it. This is why our author uses such strong language when speaking to those who continue to stay away from their Christian community. By doing so they are “abandoning” their fellow believers. It is a word that was used in Bible times to speak of a soldier deserting his fellow soldiers. Paul picks up this same thought when he writes, “for Demas deserted me, since he loved the present age, and he went to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10). From God’s perspective, our refusal to meet with fellow believers and come together as the body of Christ is to neglect a great and necessary responsibility.
I have heard many self-centered Christians remark to me over the years that they don’t need to go to church because they can worship God just fine in the confines and comforts of their own home. My question to them is, “When did the church and being part of the church ever become all about you?” Being part of Christ’s body was never about just the individual. It has always carried with it our responsibility to our fellow believers. We are to engage with our local church not just for our own benefit which we receive through others, but for the benefit of others who can be blessed and encouraged by our participation with them.
Many of these first century Jews were not only contemplating going back to the rituals under the law. Many had already stopped going to a public assembly for worship for quite some time. This is why the author points out that some have already adopted the habit of not joining others for worship.
Note what the author says is one of the great advantages of public worship. It is our mutual encouragement. As we come together as God’s people, we have the opportunity to encourage one another. There is a special blessing we receive as believers when we are obedient to His Word. God’s Word clearly teaches that He expects His children to meet together on a regular basis to worship Him.
If we want to live in the blessing of God and continually be an encouragement as well as receive encouragement, then we must form the habit of attending church.
“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1)!
“Certainly, spending just one day in your house is better than spending a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10).