“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some…” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
There was a time in my life that I saw this passage as a preacher’s ploy to fill the seats of the church sanctuary. That was before I came to realize that gathering together with my brothers and sisters in Christ for corporate worship, is vital to my overall spiritual well-being as a Christian.
As I have noted before, one of my spiritual mentors was the late Eugene Peterson. Speaking of our coming together with the family of God, he wrote, “In worship the community of God’s people assemble to hear God’s word spoken in scripture, sermon, and sacrament. The faith that is created by that proclaimed word develops responses of praise, obedience, and commitment. At no time has here ever been a biblical faith, or any kind of continuing life in relation to God, apart from such common worship. By persisting in the frequent, corporate worship in which God’s word is central, God’s people are prevented from making up a religion out of there own private ideas about God. They are also prevented from making a private individualized salvation out of what they experience, by separating themselves form brothers and sisters with whom God has made it clear His saving love is to be shared, both in receiving and giving.”
The local church, the body of Christ, and my involvement with it and commitment to it, is God’s strategy to conform me to the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. My relationship with my brothers and sisters in Christ is not some form of optional equipment in my spiritual maturation. These are the very ones that God uses to shape me.
It is through obedience to the twenty-nine One Another admonitions of the New Testament that God shapes me and molds me and whittles away the parts of me that are not yet like Him. I can honestly say that every time that God has saved me from myself, or saved His church from me, it has been through a timely word from a brother or sister in Christ who dared to speak up and let me know that my “spiritual slip” was showing.
I desperately need my brothers and sisters. I don’t only need their love, acceptance, and encouragement, I need their prayers, their honesty, and their words of correction. Bottom line? I don’t do Christianity well without my spiritual family. In fact, I’ve come to discover that I can be no more committed to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, than I am to His Body, the local fellowship of believers. Therefore, I receive with joy the admonition, “…do not neglect to meet together…”