(The devotional this week is from a portion of What if Jesus Was Serious About the Church by Skye Jethani.)
“Increasingly, I’m hearing Christians question the value of their church’s Sunday gathering, and the move to online streaming services during the pandemic only accelerated the discontent. I wonder if earlier generations were equally frustrated with church gatherings but carried a greater sense of duty to persevere. Or perhaps there was simply greater social pressure to attend church, which in many communities has since disappeared. Regardless of the cause, if we are serious about our faith but struggle with attending church, then at some point we must wrestle with what scripture says about it.
The writer of Hebrews clearly instructs believers to “not give up meeting together” (10:25), but we often overlook the reason we’re supposed to meet together. The writer of the letter could have listed any number of reasons for gathering- to offer worship to God, to learn sound doctrine, to be equipped for our mission… But he lists none of these. Instead the author offers a more basic, human, and pastoral reason. We are to meet regularly to encourage one another.
The kind of faith-building encouragement commander in Hebrews is personal, relational, and reciprocal. It’s not accomplished by passively sitting and watching a performance. This kind of encouragement requires us to be present and engaged. It’s the kind where no one is invisible and everyone is seen.
In our rapidly changing and turbulent society, that kind of gathering is needed now more than ever, but it’s also more difficult than ever because of technology and social divisions. Jesus doesn’t promise to perform in front of us, He promises to be “with us” just as we are to be with each other. And because He is with us, as we meet with even just a few brothers and sisters we can know that the arm we place on a shoulder, or the tear we shed in a prayer, or the hand that lifts our burden, will be Christ’s own.”