“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, KJV 1900)
I have been involved in churches since 1983, some thirty-eight years, and have been to a lot of Christian gatherings. Some for worship, fellowship, prayer meetings, Bible studies, etc. As I survey what we accomplished in all these, I wonder if in some ways we have missed the mark in light of what the writer of Hebrews expects to see when true believers gather?
All true believer should have a deep desire within them, planted by the regenerative work of the Spirit, to meet regularly with other believers for the purposes stated. However, it amazes me that most professing Christians are satisfied to gather only during the weekly worship service and even then, based upon observation, they only participate in about 60% of these services on the average.
Then, when we look at what many are doing during this worship service, we see a variety of strange things. They blast in to the assembly area, exchange pleasantries, sing, sit down during the sermon (during which time they order stuff on Amazon or check the google news), sing another song, get up and quickly depart. How much time does the average parishioner spend in provoking one another to love and good works, and exhorting one another in these worship times? How does the word zilch sound?
In the Christian community there is a need to meet for something deeper than can happen in the normal weekly worship experience. As important as the weekly worship is, most parishioners arrive, worship, and leave without much, if any, person to person interaction. Thus, many who only attend a worship service will miss the mutual exhortation to which the author calls professing Christians in these verses.
Consider the Jewish community to whom the author wrote. These were Jews who were transitioning from a system under the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Some would have experienced true faith in Christ, while others a mere intellectual assent to the truth of the gospel. They would be under great pressure from those outside their Christ professing community to move back to Judaism’s system of legalism. They most certainly needed each other. They would need the provocation, challenge, and encouragement to hold the course, to be steadfast in the faith, and to be rich in love and good works.
All these things are essential for professing Christendom today as well. We need one another. As we see the moral decline of our society, the general apostasy of our culture, and the weakening of the professing church, we must conclude that as time moves on, we need one another all the more. We cannot afford to neglect meeting together as many who profess the name of Christ have done. Moreover, as important as Sunday worship is, it is insufficient in its normal routine to meet this desperate need. This need can only be met if time is allocated to it and it normally happens best in smaller communities, like the community or connection group. Believers need to consider how they will engage and mutually support, challenge, and encourage one another in their Christian lives.