We live in a society and culture today in which Christians no longer see church attendance or involvement as either necessary or even desirable. This begs the question: Why should Christians go to church? Last month I wrote about the importance and necessity of corporate worship. The second reason Christians should go to church is for nurturing. In the upper room Jesus told His disciples, “By this all men will know that You are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus was not talking about their love for people in general, but specifically about their love for the other disciples. How are we, as believers and disciples of Jesus Christ, suppose to show our love for each other if we never even get together? The importance of gathering together is also emphasized in the book of Hebrews:
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 the our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
The writer of Hebrews is talking about nurturing and service, or in other words, ministry among believers. Nurturing, or ministry, can take many forms – fellowship, teaching, service, encouragement, accountability – and it is vital to the health of the body. Yet ministry is all about relationships, and how can we build relationships if we never spend time together? Or, to put it in Biblical terms, how can a body grow if its parts are not connected?
Think about the friendships you have in your life. Those relationships are usually built from shared experiences such as school, ball games, trips, or even military service. The same is true for the church, and what better experience to share than eternal life in Jesus. However, true relationships require not just shared experiences, but also time. Whether we realize it or not, Christians desperately need relationships with other Christians for encouragement and accountability. If we are to build those relationships we must be willing to put in the time. According to the writer of Hebrews, this will become even more important “as you see the day drawing near.” He is referring to the day of judgment that will accompany the return of Jesus. We know from the Bible that Christians will experience extreme persecution as that day draws near. In our society of wealth and leisure it may seem hard to imagine yet the tide is already beginning to turn against those who confess Jesus as Lord. It is time for us to leave the vain and trivial pursuits of the world that keep us distracted. It is time to build up and strengthen the Body of Christ.
Adam Davis, Senior Pastor FBC Archer City, TX