“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
The words, do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together, reflects the heart of one who understands just how vital gathering together with our brothers and sisters in Christ is to one’s Christian growth. Because the passage says that the habit of some is to forsake these gatherings, a deliberate habit of gathering must be cultivated, or we will find ourselves being drawn towards the many distractions that the world offers up to keep us from the corporate gatherings of the local church.
One of my greatest mentors regarding what it means to be a pastor, was Eugene Peterson. Keenly understanding the message of Hebrews 10:23-25, 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 the proclaimed Word develops responses of praise, obedience, and commitment. At no time has there ever been a biblical faith, or any kind of continuing life in relation to God, apart from such common worship. By persisting in frequent, corporate worship in which God’s Word is central, God’s people are prevented from making up a religion of their own private ideas about God. They are also prevented from making a private individualized salvation out of what they experience, by separating themselves from brothers and sisters with whom God has made it clear His saving love is to be shared, both in receiving and giving.”
The author of Proverbs 18:1, concurred with both the writer of Hebrews and Eugene Peterson, writing, “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement.”
There are areas in Christian life and character that can only be developed as we willfully submit our lives to one another in corporate worship and service, where we deliberately stimulate one another to love and good deeds.
How desperately l need the body of Christ, for its members, both corporately and individually, are the tools that God uses in the ongoing process of conforming me into the image of His Son.