By Joe Torosian
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:25
You don’t go to Hell if you don’t go to church.
Despite what you may have been told in your youth, in Sunday School, or by your grandparents, it is not a sin to miss church.
Is it good to miss church? No.
Will you fry for it? No.
But should you be in church? Yes.
Church is not the building, church is an assembly of like-minded. It can be politicians, it can be members of a Christian organization.
So when you go to church, you are part of an assembly, a body of people, not a building.
These days we often fool ourselves by believing we’ve gone to church/assembly when we’ve only attended service somewhere. This can happen in a small church as well as a large. People come for the music/worship, listen to the speaker—agree with what he/she had to say—and then leave through the nearest exit at its conclusion.
They might even feel a sense of satisfaction in accomplishing their Sunday and/or spiritual duty. (This can apply to Saturday night services as well.)
If that is your experience then you really haven’t gone to church, you’ve gone to a service.
I’m not saying it wasn’t enjoyable, uplifting, or inspiring. I’m just saying that’s not church.
To be part of a church is to be part of an assembly. To know who you are assembled with. To know their names, to know something about the work they do, perhaps the names of their children, maybe even a little bit of what they struggle with. For them to know your name, the names of your children, what you do, and perhaps a little bit of what you struggle with…And then encourage each other.
We remain on solid ground, biblically, when we reference other believers as “brother” or “sister,” but it feels a little hollow—less than—when the only time I see them is in the worship service I attend. How can I/we call somebody a brother—with integrity—if we barely know them?
The scripture above says we should not forsake meeting together. The writer to the Hebrews understands its importance. If we are going to encourage one another, then we have to know one another. We have to come together.
And I’m not talking about coming together solely to do good deeds. Of course, that’s part of it, but we often deflect getting to know our “brothers” and “sisters” by being invested in the cause of ministry. The task becomes the most important thing. And like the service we attend, when we feel an emotional/spiritual satisfaction, we exit out the nearest door.
That’s not church. That’s being a good deed doer, who attends services, and selfishly gratifies a personal need to be involved/identified with a cause. It’s all nice, but it’s not the church.
How can you encourage somebody if you don’t know them? Hebrews 10:23 calls for us to keep the faith and hold on to the hope we profess…Awesome…Hebrews 10:24 says we should consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
How do you spur on people you don’t know?
Instead, we put the “good deeds” before the spurring, conclude some altruistic task, and then move on with our own lives.
Among the most challenging things to do these days is to get to know and trust people. One of the best places to accomplish this is in a gathering of like-minded folk. An assembly, a church…but we too often settle for the service and leave the business of encouraging and spurring one another on to someone else.
We’ve neglected our brother and sister when our first thought after “amen” is to exit out the side door.
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all available through Amazon.com.