I’m the wife of a youth pastor so I’m supposed to love church. Right?
Well, the honest answer is, I don’t always love church.
I should be a statistic when you take the time to add up all of my “church hurt.” It’s not pretty and sometimes I really don’t want to “do church” anymore.
The scars that I thought were closed, open up again and the hurt, anger, frustration, and bitterness leak out. I thought I had dealt with it all but there are some days that prove that some pains still linger.
I know that those scars were caused by only a handful of people and that every lot has a few bad eggs. I’ve also acknowledged that Church as an entity is not bad and that most of the people in church are not bad. I’ve learned to accept these lessons and live accordingly. But it’s not always easy.
Since I struggle, I understand when people want to quit attending church regularly. I’ve heard people say things like, ‘I don’t need to go to church because I worship God at home.’
I understand the sentiment and, aside from the fact that I suspect regular worship alone at home is a lie, this is not Scripture based.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10: 25
It was this verse that kept me going to church (and still does) when I didn’t (don’t) feel like it. Don’t get me wrong, most days I look forward to church but it wasn’t always like that.
This verse is very clear, we are not to give up meeting together as a fellowship of believers.
I imagine the early church was a frustrating place and it was probably worse for the Jews. Each community was still trying to figure out how a church should be run. The Jews had laws and regulations passed down from Moses regarding Jewish tradition but this recently established Jesus way was new and mostly unorganized. I can imagine that it would have been very easy for early believing Jews to throw in the towel and walk away from this Jesus / church thing.
The author of Hebrews wants to make it very clear that we are not to abandon this ‘meeting together.’ In the original language the word for meeting together means ‘gathering; assembling.’ Today’s churches may look a little different than the early church but we are still gathering or assembling together.
Regardless of which denomination you are a part of, the author is clear that we are to be meeting with each other and to ‘encourage one another’. The word encourage comes from the Greek word parakaleō (παρακαλέω) which is a multidimensional word meaning, ‘to call to one’s side; to address; to admonish; to beseech; to strengthen; to comfort; to instruct or teach.’
We are to meet together to praise God like we see in Acts 2:46-47 but we should be meeting together for many other reasons.
We are to be taught Godly principles which is why there is preaching. We are to be corrected which is why there is teaching. We are to be standing along side others so we are strengthening each other against the enemy’s attacks and we are not caught unaware (2 Cor 2:11). We are to comfort and encourage and be one body of Christ.
While it is a great habit to worship God at home, it is never okay to give up meeting together.
It is much easier to conquer a divided army than it is to destroy a united one.
So, while we may not always agree on everything and we may not always like the other people in the body of Christ, it is still our responsibility and privileged to stand beside them as a representative of God.