God is looking to build us together in love (Ephesians 4:16) and for us to be built up as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). However, in the case of this house, as with many things this season, some assembly is required!
“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.”
The “consumerism” that is rampant in society seems to have crept into the church, as more and more Christians see themselves as “consumers” of Christian services. Many come just to get something for themselves rather than bringing something themselves to bless others. They want to get as “blessed” as possible. If they ever think another local church might bless them more, off they hop to go over there until they think they find an even better blessing elsewhere.
Then they probably figure that if all you want out of church is to “get” something, you could just watch services on TV on Sunday morning. After all, the preacher on TV is probably more anointed than any local pastor because he has a bigger church. (Although no one probably points out that if that preacher were moved to Knox County, Maine, he would not have such a big church no matter how anointed he is or how well he preaches.) Granted, the TV preacher can’t give them any personal attention or help if they’re in a crisis, but this way they don’t have to support a local ministry financially.
(Now we KNOW we can’t be talking to you because you’re here in our sanctuary, right? This must be for someone who reads our Web site!)
It is obvious that many people have lost the whole concept of how important it is to attend church meetings. We talk to many Christians in Knox Country who do not attend any church, and have not done so for years! It is much easier to lead someone to the Lord around here than to see someone get plugged into a local church and become a real disciple of Jesus who can go out and win others.
Just try obeying 1 Peter 4:10 without going to church: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” How can you do that at home? You can’t.
Galatians 5:13 is another tough solo act: “Through love serve one another.” At home, you don’t have to serve anyone while you’re watching TV. This is the precise reason no one ever matures as a Christian by staying home and watching Christian TV. You mature as you develop your love walk and learn to serve others. You can’t do that at home. Knowledge alone will only puff you up – love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1).
“Yes, but at church, I might run into people who rub me the wrong way!” I bet you will. That’s exactly when you learn to walk in love, and it does you good. Iron sharpens iron, and some people are pretty sharp! And remember, you may be someone else’s walk-in-love challenge (don’t try hard to be that, though). You will meet people in various stages of their Christian walk, which might include the stage of “haven’t even started it yet”. Can you walk in love and overlook their imperfections?
“But Pastor Steve, you handed this bulletin out to people who showed up today. Aren’t you just preaching to the choir?” Since we don’t have a choir at this point, I can’t preach to it, but many of you probably know some Christians who are not in church but need to be. Maybe you will be the person to impress on them the need (to say nothing of the Biblical mandate in Hebrews 10:25) to assemble!