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 10:25, KJV)
And let us not hold aloof from our church meetings, as some do. Let us do all we can to help one another’s faith, and this the more earnestly as we see the final day drawing nearer.
Delivered on Sunday, May 4, 2008, at Castalia Baptist church during 11a.m. worship
A woman saw her pastor’s wife at her beauty shop. She told her beautician that the woman in the chair was her pastor’s wife. Then she candidly added, “She sees me everywhere, except at church!”
This honesty about spiritual dereliction may sound strange in our world, but the truth is it is not unique to this woman. So many people find every where to go, but church.
It is truly upsetting to a serious believer to hear people say that they are unable to come to a worship service, but these same people are found at the grocery store, the malls, beauty or barber shops, etc.
It is not hard to ascertain that the problem that keeps them absent from worship is not illness or some dreaded condition. Rather, it is choice. They are not drawn to worship because they do have it as a priority. Worship means little or nothing to them, so they choose to avoid it like the plaque.
Our text urges the Hebrew Christians to regularly and faithfully to come to church. In this single verse there are two valid reasons given for regular Christian corporate worship. They are the encouragement of each other and preparation for the return of Christ.
The writer’s audience here is urged to be a faithful worshipper. They are not to follow the slothful example of some. Those who are not dutiful should lack influence over others. The dropouts from worship should not become trend setters. Their woeful example should not be followed by others.
As logical as this admonition may seem, it is not always exercised. It seems that in so many quarters the worse elements of society become pace setters. For example, promiscuous homosexual prisoners started a trend of dropping their pants. This obscenity was picked up and imitated by unsuspecting and naïve individuals who had no idea what they were following.
My late colleague at LeMoyne-Owen College, Dr. Reuben Henry Green used to say “the philosopher should be king.” By this he meant that the one who was wise should be the leader. The best in society should be who is followed. The successful, dutiful, and virtuous should be the role models.
Yet, in so many instances instead of these people being at the head, the following train is imitating the derelicts of society. Outlaws, addicts, and misfits seem to have an unhealthy hold on so many. Among African American students so many condemn those who make A’s. They say if you make that grade, you are trying to be white.
To return to the text, the Hebrew Christians are urged not to follow spiritual drop outs. Do not follow the example of those who fail to attend worship. Do not be like them for they are unwise and therefore undesirable.
Worship is for the betterment of the worshippers. They are made stronger in their faith and the things of God. They need encouragement. They need reaffirming. They need inspiration. They need to hear some “amen’s,” “hallelujahs,” “praise the Lord,” and “glory.”
When the saints come together in the name of Christ they are enhanced. They are benefited. They are made better by bowing and worshipping the Almighty who brings forth new mercies day by day every morning. They hear scriptures read that they hide in their hearts that they may not sin against God. In worship they hear good news even though they live in a world where they are surrounded by breaking bad news.
Oh yes, when believers meet to give God the glory due to His holy name, they are made stronger. They are built up in their faith. They are enhanced in their determination. They become solid and steadfast because they were exposed to the benefits of corporate worship.
Indeed, it is amazing how something you heard in church years ago stays with you. You may not even be conscious of it. Nevertheless, deep within your subconscious mind resonates songs, prayers, sermons, and good words of expression that let you know that you can make it if God is kept first in your life.
Christian worship is medicine to the soul. It is insurance against straying from the straight and narrow. It is aid to the destitute sinner. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves in Jesus’ name because it helps you to sail life’s stormy seas.
Then, the Hebrew Christians are instructed to assemble because Jesus is coming back. Yes, He has been here. He was born of a virgin named Mary. He went about doing good. He performed miracles for good. He preached and taught good lessons. He lived the exemplary good life. He suffered for a good cause. He died and was buried for the good of a sinful world. He rose the third day morning with a good victory over death and the grave. He ascended back to the right hand of the Father to make intercession for our good.
Then when time will be no more and the trump of God shall sound, He will split the heavens with His glory as He comes to rapture His Church. He is coming to save us so we will sin no more. Believers have an eternal meeting with the Master. As Sister Aza Lee Martin prays in our Wednesday night prayer meeting, “We are going to praise His name throughout ceaseless ages.”
Thus, today’s assembly is a dress rehearsal for the eternal assembly. If we fail to own Him now before men, He will not own us before God the Father.
Let us not be deceived. Let us not become distracted and tempted by invalid excuses that cause us to be absent for our spiritual food. We need what the Church offers. We need its preparation for that great getting up morning when the saints shall be gathered home.