I am truly grateful for the ability to stream our services online, which has allowed us to study God’s word together and maintain some form of connection during this pandemic. As grateful as I am for online services, I am equally convinced that they are not enough to sustain us for the long term as a body of believers. This is the last article in our series considering a few of the reasons why gathering together physically is so important for us as a church.
I want to consider what the writer of Hebrews wrote about gathering together in Hebrews 10:24-25:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Consider One Another
The writer of Hebrews is explaining how we should respond to the good news that Jesus made a way for us to be reconciled to God. He says we should draw near to God (10:22), hold fast the confession of our hope (10:23), and consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (10:24).
The first two commands give us instructions on how we are to relate to God, and the third gives us instructions on how we are to relate to one another. So, what is the writer of Hebrews saying about how we should relate to one another based on the good news that he has been sharing about Jesus?
He is saying that our goal should be to stir one another up to love and good works. Love and good works are the appropriate response for sinners like us who have been loved so unconditionally by a gracious savior. He loved us and laid down His life for us. Therefore, we should love others and do good as he has done for us.
The interesting part is how we are supposed to stir one another up to love and good works. We are supposed to stir one another up by considering one another. In other words, we are to think deeply about one another so that we can discover what action or words might stir each other up to love and good works. This means considering one another’s lives, struggles, relationships, and opportunities. Considering each other in this way takes concentrated effort and intentionality. It requires asking deeper questions and listening intently to the answers. It involves caring enough to want to know how someone might be hindered from love and good works so that you would know how to help them overcome those hindrances.
This kind of deep consideration requires an entirely different perspective on relationships. We must consider each relationship with a fellow believer as an opportunity to serve that fellow believer so that they can more effectively love others and do good works. Our motivation to do this would be our desire for God to be glorified through more love and more good works.
Is this how you think about your relationships? We often fall into the traps of seeing our relationships as a means to propping up our happiness and well-being. The writer of Hebrews challenges this instinct and would call us to think differently. If our happiness and well-being were all that mattered, then it would make perfect sense to distance ourselves from others in this season. On the other hand, if we see our relationships as opportunities to care for, consider, and encourage others, then we must make every effort to stay engaged with those in our church family.
We are supposed to consider one another and stir one another up to love and good works. This leads to the next instruction. The writer of Hebrews continues, “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (10:25). These two commands go together. We are called to consider one another, which means thinking deeply about one another’s lives. It means thinking deeply about what might be discouraging someone and how you might help them overcome that discouragement. It means thinking deeply about what opportunities they might have for good works, and considering how you might encourage them to make the most of those opportunities. It is impossible to know these things if we are not meeting together regularly. Therefore, we must not neglect meeting together.
Our devotion to meeting together should not be motivated by some legalistic desire to earn the favor of God or others. Instead, our devotion should be motivated by love for God, love for his glory, and love for our church family. We should long to see one another grow in love and good works because it glorifies God and brings joy to others. We have the opportunity to spur one another on towards these great things when we gather together regularly.
As The Day Draws Near
Finally, the writer of Hebrews turns up the intensity by writing, “encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:25). He lifts our eyes and invites us to remember that the day of judgment is drawing near. He wants us to remember that we will see Jesus’ face soon, and each day it is closer than it was the day before.
This important reminder encourages us to live with purpose and intentionality. Each day that passes brings us closer to the final Day, and the days that pass cannot be regained.
Therefore, let us consider one another, spur one another on, meet together, and encourage one another all the more.
Online services have been a gift from God over the last few months, but they can never replace our regular gatherings. The assembly of God’s people is a precious gift that God has given us to enjoy. God intended for us to see one another’s faces, share each other’s smiles and tears, catch up with friends face to face, and encourage one another. Let us continue to join together in praying that God will allow us to regather as quickly and as safely as possible.