“25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25
The church is not man’s idea. The church is God’s idea. It’s through the church that God chooses to reveal Himself and to establish His kingdom on earth. Is the church perfect? No. The church is filled with imperfect people. That’s the beauty of grace, that a perfect God would associate with imperfect people.
“ 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16 gives us three key truths about the church.
#1 The Church belongs to God. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” We are called to participate in maintaining and advancing His church. We don’t own the church we steward His church.
#2 The Church is built on Jesus Christ. Jesus’ play on words is profound. Peters name is “Petros” which means little rock, or pebble. The word used for “rock” is petra, which means large rock. It’s on Peter’s testimony, Jesus is the Messiah, that God will build His church.
#3 The Church is Indivisible. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” A church rooted in the Word of God and led by the Spirit of God will endure. A church can implode if it becomes the product of partial truths and political correctness.
Hebrews was written to a primarily Jewish Christian congregation and at the time of this writing Jewish Christians were under tremendous pressure and persecution. They put their faith in Jesus Christ at the risk of being branded as traitors and alienated from their kinsmen.
As a result, many stopped going to church and Paul’s concern is that more of these Jewish Christians would cease gathering together to alleviate the conflict and persecution they were experiencing. He warns them of this wrong response and explains the importance of getting together regularly. When making a decision, convenience over conviction will always produce the wrong decision.
When life becomes chaotic and we elect to cut church out of our schedule we make more time for chaos.
#1 Draw near. “Let us draw near with a true heart,” Hebrews 10:22. Have you ever stopped and thought about how incredible it is that we get to draw near to God? Showing up and drawing near is not the same thing. Showing up is the first part. If we are going to encounter God and experience His presence, we need to draw near. A true heart means ‘wholeheartedly,’ drawing near to God with all our heart.
#2 Hold on. “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope,” Hebrews 10:23. Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are falling? It is a common response by those falling to flail their arms in the air in an attempt to grab hold of something to break their fall. What do you grab onto when life becomes overwhelming? By regular attendance in church, we are reminded that we are not alone. Attending church affirms our faith and restores hope.
#3 Stir it up. “Let us consider how to stir up one another,” Hebrews 10:24. Have you been around some people in the church who have the gift of provoking? Except they stir up the wrong stuff. To “stir-up” is a pre-meditated and intentional act. It involves creativity and opportunity. We are instructed to look for ways to stir up one another in love and good works. When you miss church you forfeit the responsibility to stir up others and miss the chance to be stirred up.
There will be seasons in life when our priorities and commitments will be challenged. Remember that the church is God’s idea. It’s the place where we experience His presence, where hope is affirmed, and where we can ‘stir up one another’ for love and good works. The church is at its best and we are at our best when all three components are functioning together.