What Will Keep You Home?
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
It is evident, as you read through the New Testament, that coming together for worship and edification was a very important part of the disciple’s lives (cf. Acts 2:42-47). Assembling on the first day of the week was especially important as it was then that Christians broke bread in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice as He had instructed (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). It was also a time for laying by in store so that the needs of preachers and downtrodden saints could be supplied (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Philippians 4:15-16 (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:14)). But, what about today? As we strive to follow Christ and emulate the example of those very first Christians (by Divine pattern), are we as passionate about assembling with the saints as we have been commanded?
Or, do we let things get in the way? We understand, of course, that there are times where we might be hindered from the assembly due to sickness or other circumstances beyond our control. But, what about the opportunities that are within our control? What will keep you home?
Will you stay home if the seating is uncomfortable or the service lasts too long? Have you considered the example of a young man named Eutychus in Acts 20 (vs. 7-12) who sat for hours listening to Paul preach the gospel all while sitting on a windowsill? In fact, we are told in the text that he fell asleep and fell as a result. Paul, by Christ’s power, healed Eutychus, but what a sobering example for us today who might choose to skip services because of trivial issues relating to a lack of what really amounts to luxuries? (They didn’t have air conditioning in the early church!)
Maybe one might decide to stay home because of a fellow Christian or Christians whom they have deemed too imperfect or flawed. Have we considered the powerful example of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14? There we read of a very arrogant man who had the audacity to thank God that he wasn’t like other men who were sinners as if he were somehow without flaw (cf. Romans 3:23). The other man was so humble and cognizant of his own failings that he could not even lift his eyes toward heaven, but rather prayed to God for mercy. Jesus tells us that it was the second man who went home justified. Jesus also teaches us in Matthew 6:15 that, “if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Nobody who assembles for worship is perfect. Not the elders, not the preacher, not the deacons, and not you! We all need Christ and we need each other as we strive to constantly improve.
Or, could it be that there is something more exciting happening at the time of services? Maybe you, like those in Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:16-20 have something more important to do? It could be that you made plans with friends or that the kids have a game, but, ultimately, if this is your excuse, perhaps it is time to consider what really is your top priority?
What if the government decides to tell us all that we are not allowed to assemble for worship? Given all that has happened this year with the COVID-19 virus, that scenario is not as far-fetched as it used to be! Will we quietly comply or will we take a note from the apostles and choose to obey God rather than men? (cf. Acts 4:19-20; 5:29)
In Mark 2:1-12, we read of a paralytic who could not get to Jesus because of the crowds that had amassed to hear Him teach. He could have just gone home, but, instead, his four friends climbed onto the roof, dug a hole in it, and lowered Him down through the ceiling. Be like that man! Do not ever choose to let something keep you from being where Christ has said He will be (cf. Matthew 26:29; 18:20).