By Laura Bailey, Crosswalk.com
“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT
It’s not hard to remember the days, weeks, months, and in some places, a year or more of regulations around gathering, or should I say, the lack of gathering. A few months after the COVID lockdowns were lifted and communities began to venture out, I had the opportunity to speak to some women at our church.
We’d originally thought we would need to cancel the event but decided to practice caution and carry on as planned. Stepping up to the podium, my usually loud and commanding voice was lost in the chatter. My heart warmed as I stood looking out at the groups of women, laughter bouncing off the walls and merry voices conversing.
Sure, I was aware that in many countries, believers must meet privately; even in parts of the United States, it can be dangerous to come together to worship the Lord. Yet, I’d never experienced a time when I couldn’t gather in the community, so I was overjoyed to sit beside my sisters in Christ. Finally, I caught the women's attention. I’d shared how wonderful it was to be fellowshiping with one another. I often took The gift of gathering for granted, but in that moment, I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to come together.
However, the sentiment faded as life returned to normal, schools went back in session, work resumed in offices, extracurriculars dominated our schedules, and church attendance waned. In our key verse, we see that gathering with the body of believers is encouraged but commanded. The previous verse, Hebrews 10:24, tells us to encourage one another and drive each other towards good deeds; we do this by meeting together.
The body of Believers is a gift.
Have you ever had a hard day, feeling utterly hopeless, and a friend from church calls asking you to grab dinner? An hour in her presence, even as you talk about the complex spaces in your life, lifts your spirits.
Maybe you are in a season of intense trials, and your faith is constantly being tested. When you are alone, the thoughts inside your head drive you to doubt and disbelief. But, on the nights you go to Bible study, you feel like a weight has been lifted, and the prayers on your behalf give you strength and comfort.
The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone; we are made for community and connection. A real-life, in-person meeting, not just a digital encounter, which we all know, never really fills the craving of wanting to be known and loved.
Not prioritizing meeting with other Christians isn’t just a problem today, as Paul wrote to believers centuries ago who neglected to meet with one another. I mentioned this earlier, but it is worth repeating. Meeting with other Christians, not only for discipleship but to encourage them, build them up, and bless them, is not a suggestion; it is something we must do.
I encourage you today, no matter what you have on your schedule, to set aside time to meet with the Lord and His people. That might mean you must say no to something else you enjoy to make time for fellowship. We prioritize our gym workouts, book clubs, weekends away, hobbies, and other activities to make time for the most essential things in our lives. Everything I listed will eventually go away, and it is temporary. Don’t allow what is fleeting to control your schedule over the eternal. Make time to gather; it truly is a gift from the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of gathering. I am so grateful for the body of believers in my life, and I pray that if someone doesn’t have a church community, you provide that for them. Help us not to take the ability to fellowship, worship, and praise you for granted. We love you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/pondsaksit
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