“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)
These words written nearly 2,000 years ago are just as practical today as they were the day they were written. It is a call to the church to hold onto what is most important – to hold onto our hope. Where is the Christian’s hope? It is in the completed work of God in Jesus Christ. Jesus shed His blood on the cross in order that we might be made spiritually clean. Our hope is not in our good works or in religious observances. We are hoping in what is already done for us by Jesus.
Our faith is personal but it is more. We are saved to belong to a community of faith. We are called to spur one another on to express love and do good things in Jesus’ name. We are warned not to give up meeting together, because in coming together we actually encourage one another.
We can find all kinds of reasons to pull away from the local body of Christ, and evidently even in the early church some did exactly that. Perhaps the preacher wasn’t exciting enough, the music not loud enough, the people not friendly enough, or the seats not soft enough. There may be a legitimate call to improve some areas of the local church, but are they reason enough to abandon ship?
Here’s what I have discovered having been connected to one degree or another with the local church for over fifty years – there is no substitute for the church family. When you are a part of the body of Christ rather than just someone who attends church every now and then, you discover that church is less of a place to go and more of a people to belong to. You discover that there are people who are willing to accept you, pray for you, stand with you, encourage you, challenge you, love you, and guide you. You find that you are not just one person in a crowd but a wanted and needed member of Christ’s body.
Hold on to your personal faith in Christ but also stay intimately connected with the body of Christ. Don’t just attend church; be part of the church. Don’t embrace a consumer mindset, rather embrace a servant attitude. It’s true that today’s church isn’t a perfect reflection of Christ, but Jesus established His church. He loves His church. And He calls each of us to unite with His church for His glory and our collective good.