"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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 10:23-25
I used to work with a really nice lady back when I was in college. We talked about spiritual issues and everyday life issues. One day we began talking about church. I told her that I loved my church family and that I looked forward to every opportunity I had to meet together with them. I talked about Sunday School, worship services, and fellowships. She began to tell me about a bad experience she had at a church. That bad experience led her to believe that church (meeting together) was really not that important for a Christ follower. She could read the Bible and pray at her home or even at work sometimes. If she needed good spiritual advice, she had friends that she could call. I was really puzzled by her comment that church wasn't really that important to a Christ follower. I didn't want to hurt her or come across condescending, but I wanted her to know the truth. I immediately thought about Hebrews 10:24-25 where it says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 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." God's Word tells us the we should "not give up meeting together." His Word tells us that we should be "encouraging one another." CHURCH (MEETING TOGETHER) IS IMPORTANT! The Greek word for church is "ekklesia," which means "to be called out" or "assembly." When Peter responded to Jesus in Matthew 16:16, he said, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." The solid rock foundation of the church is the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. The church is so important to Jesus that He says He will build it. Jesus "called out" the disciples and His followers. The Holy Spirit continued to "call out" after Jesus' resurrection, and the Holy Spirit continues to "call out" today, bringing men and women and children together...the church! Paul even speaks to the importance of the church in Ephesians 5:25. Yes, he is speaking to husbands and the love they should have for their wives. But look at the example he uses to demonstrate it: "Husbands, love your wives, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER." Christ died for the church because He loved her! To say that church isn't important is like saying Christ's death for the church (His children) isn't important. I prayed for this young lady at work daily. I prayed that God would speak to her heart through His Word, but I also prayed that God would help me be an encouragement to her. I bragged on God and I bragged on His church as much as I could. I encourage you to pray and ask God to show you the truth in His Word about church (meeting together). If you have fallen away from church because of a bad experience(s) or just a lack of effort on your part, pray and ask God to forgive those during the bad experience(s) and pray and ask God to forgive you, as well. He will do it! And He will give you a heart for the church, the "ekklesia" (meeting together), and He will show you where He wants you to be!