Spur one another on!
Three years ago, in October 2017, after 10 years of meeting in local schools, Watermark Church moved into a brand new, beautiful church home of our own! Every Sunday morning, as I pray in my office at church, I thank God for providing us with such a wonderful home where we can gather with one another to be encouraged - to be stirred up and to be spurred on! 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
Why is it so important for Believers to gather together? After all, there are plenty of other things we could do on a Sunday morning, so is attending church really a big deal? The short answer is “yes”! It is very important for Believers to gather together.
When this letter, Hebrews, was written, it appears that some Believers had chosen to stop meeting together. In fact, they were no longer in the “habit” of attending church. We aren’t sure why, but maybe they feared persecution, or maybe their initial excitement for Christ had waned, or maybe they were just discouraged, or perhaps they just didn’t see the value in meeting together any more. But the writer makes clear that it is vital for Believers to meet together. Why?
It is important for Believers to meet together to stir one another up and to spur one another on! The writer makes clear that Believers have a huge impact on one another; that when we gather together we inspire and incite one another toward action! When this letter was written in the first century, there were some Believers who were considering going back to the old, Levitical form of Judaism and abandoning Christianity altogether! If they stopped gathering together, they could have given up. It was imperative for them to gather to stir one another up and to spur one another on!
The same is true for us! These days, there is a lot going on in our world that could keep us apart, not the least of which is a pandemic. We don’t scoff at the pandemic, after all Christians get sick too. But at Watermark, we are trying to be responsible and smart in developing ways to gather physically or virtually. We have an online, virtual option for those who don’t yet feel safe attending and we have safety protocols in place to help protect those who are willing to gather physically. We have even installed a UV filtration system in all our HVAC units to help keep the air we breath in our building as clean as possible.
God knows we need encouragement these days more than ever; so Watermark is doing all we can to stay connected and fully engaged with one another. We know that it is important to be together to stir one another up and spur one another on! But what are we spurring one another toward? Hebrews 10:24 tells us:
When we gather together, we spur one another toward love! We know that Christ called us to “love one another”. (John 13:34-35). We have said many times that love is a distinguishing characteristic for us as Christ-followers. We make an impression and leave a mark for Christ when we love one another. In a world that is often filled with hatred, selfishness, and enmity, people long for a place to love and be loved. The Christian church is that place. When we gather together, we spur one another toward love. (1 Corinthians 13).
When we gather together, we spur one another toward good deeds! Let’s be honest about our world and about people. We tend toward self and selfishness. We naturally think about “me first”. We live in a world that promotes selfishness, getting what is mine and what I have “coming to me”. But as Christ-followers, we want to be about doing good for Christ’s sake. (Matthew 5:16). When we come together, we spur one another toward good deeds. That is selflessness.
To be clear, there is nothing in the New Testament that commands a Believer to maintain perfect attendance at church. Attending every church service does not make a person “holier” than the one who misses a service here and there for any reason, and there are certainly valid reasons for missing. Our relationship with God is not based on punching a time clock at church.
However, the Bible makes clear that “meeting together” should be a habit for Believers. It should not be something we take for granted or have a nonchalant attitude toward, pandemic aside. There are plenty distractions, other than a pandemic, that can pull us away from church. Fellow Pastor John McArthur reminds Believers: “God’s plan for us involves the church, which Jesus promised to build, and as Believers, we should be supporting God’s plan enthusiastically!”
On a ride in the mountains a couple of months ago, I passed by a little, white framed church resting serenely on a knoll. I doubted that this little church had a very robust online presence; in fact, it was likely that the church, and most who attended there, didn’t even have Wifi. But the church did have a small sign out front with a profound message that still lingers in my mind. It read: “The biggest problem with missing church is that soon you won’t miss it.”
I have thought about that a lot lately. As a pastor, I’m not nearly as concerned about people missing church as I am about people not missing church. I pray that this pandemic, or any other distraction that our world can conjure up, won’t cause Believers to think that meeting together doesn’t matter, because it absolutely does. We stir one another up and we spur one another on toward love and good deeds! I hope you will meet with us physically when you feel safe and virtually when you don’t. God knows we need one another!
For much more, click here to watch One Another Part 7: Encourage - Stir One Another Up!