Sunday, August 19, 2012

Assembling together

"Forsaking not the assembling of yourselves together,
 and so much the more, as you see the Day approaching." 
       - Hebrews 10:25 KJV

I've heard the above verse all my life used - usually - as a weapon to keep people coming to church, and I never questioned that application of it, until recently.  Before I start discussing it, I want to make absolutely clear that I am not advocating the abandonment of church attendance, just a more broad application of the meaning of the verse.

Of late, I've been more and more convinced that Hebrews 10:25 is not just about going to church every time the doors are open.

Here's why.  In the early days of Christendom, there weren't any church buildings ... and as I have searched the New Testament, I can find NO reference to people worshiping together or having set church gatherings on a Sunday or even a Saturday.  Especially with a prescribed "order of service" like we have today.  No, the church was being persecuted heavily and couldn't afford the luxury of gathering in large groups.  People met in each other's homes or in secluded spots, in twos and threes usually, so as to avoid detection by the authorities.  Once in a while, (and I doubt that it would be once a week or even once a month!) people would gather in groups larger than that, and it would be the Spirit who would tell them what was going to happen and when. 

The only reference that I can see to the "once a week" idea is this: Paul mentioned one time to believers in one of the churches he wrote to, instructions to set aside some money on the first day of the week in order to be able to meet the needs of those in their circle or perhaps missionaries who needed support and financial aid.  He said nothing about gathering together at that time, just of setting money aside.  

Great photo.  Found HERE
I'll be brutally honest here.  While God has used this and that person or this and that sermon or song done in a church service in order to do His work in me, the vast majority of my spiritual growth is done OUTSIDE the walls - sometimes alone, sometimes in connection and fellowship with one or two close friends as we share together the good things God is teaching us.  I've experienced more "church" (in the original sense of the word) over coffee or a meal, or even in a non-church setting such as a 12-step group, than I would have had in a church building with all the bells and whistles of today's accepted format in the company of a hundred or so people with whom I have nothing in common except ummmm, Hebrews 10:25 and the collective guilt over NOT going and "doing the right thing."  You know the format I'm talking about; first there's singing, then offering and announcements, then sermon, then singing again, with an emphasis on following the directions of the person who has the microphone - instead of the One who gave it all for us, and calls us to intimacy with Him. 

Of course you understand that I'm making generalizations here.  (Please see my first paragraph).

I rather think that we've also forgotten the "so much the more" part - if gathering together in twos and threes, sometimes as many as five or six people, is what the early church did - I can see how it would be possible and even edifying to meet more frequently, not to posture or to trot our our spirituality, but to show each other the love of Christ.  How it would be beneficial to build relationships (not to just face front with dozens of others and listen to one or two people talk), get to know each other, share things with each other that are happening in our lives, be there for each other, pray for (and with) each other, and laugh and cry with each other. 

That kind of love-in-action would be worth assembling together "so much the more."

No comments:

Post a Comment