“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25).
Because I work in a retail environment, I am required to work some Sunday shifts. I’ve worked four of the last six Sundays and one of my two Sundays off I had to drive my husband to the airport. I’ve not been in church for the past four weeks. I feel it. I feel my spirit shriveling up a little more each day for the lack of Christian fellowship, corporate worship and receiving the Word. I feel the pull of sin getting stronger. I feel the weight of the world getting heavier. I feel alone.
The writer of Hebrews understood the necessity of Christian companionship when he wrote our key verse. It sits in the middle of a passage that calls for perseverance. The Hebrew Christians were under extreme persecution from both the Roman government and the Jewish religious community for their faith. This entire book is a call to remain firm in the faith and one of the most dependable ways to do so is to stand together in one accord. The author says that Christian fellowship has several purposes: to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” to encourage one another,” and to hold each other accountable, (vs. 24, 25, implied in v. 26). Many martyrs of the faith have been imprisoned, publically tortured and put to death. But they went through those abuses united in heart and faith, and they drew strength from one another. In 1555 two faithful Bishops, Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer we burned side-by-side at the stake for their testimony of Christ. As they embraced before the place of burning, Ridley told Latimer, “Be of good heart, brother, for God will either make the fire less painful, or strengthen us so that we can endure it.”
Friend, we may not be facing a fiery death for our faith (yet), but we still need one another to endure the struggles and challenges of our lives. I need you. I need your encouragement. I need your prayers. I need your witness. I need you to remind me to remain faithful. You need me for the same reasons. Church is not just something we do as long as the kids don’t have a soccer match or the beach isn’t calling our name on Sunday. Church – Christian fellowship – is something we need for the sake of our spiritual lives. I hope to see you in church this coming Lord’s Day.