Tuesday, October 23, 2012



In reading the letter to the Hebrews today, I again ran across this admonition from the unknown (That the author is not St. Paul, as was once believed, has been accepted for hundreds of years.) writer: (Chapter 10, v. 25):

We should not stay away from the assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

At the time the letter was written, probably before AD 70, the Christian assemblies to which the author refers were simply meetings of people who accepted Jesus, or early church services.  So the message of the writer of Hebrews can be translated in modern times as, in the immortal words of Curtis Salgado, “You get wise!  You go to church!”

Even then, perhaps especially then, in the earliest days of the Church, it was deemed important to get one’s self to church regularly…and there were plenty of Christians who didn’t go to church. Back then, everyone had a good excuse not to go to church; the authorities, whether local or Roman, in the Holy Land were not too keen on this new sect or branch of Judaism and had little compunction about persecuting those who adhered to it. But, despite the dangers, people recognized the value of gathering together to profess their faith in common and to, as the author put it, “encourage one another.”

Today, going to church has fallen out of favor, even among those who have deep faith in God in the person of Jesus. While the reasons for not going to church are not as valid as they were when there was something of a price on Christian’s heads, aversion to church attendance is understandable, given what many organized religions, or at least some people representing many organized religions, have done to betray the trust of the faithful…or worse. But adhering to the ancient admonition to attend “the assembly” makes sense not only from the standpoint of mutual encouragement in these trying times, but also because of human limitations.

You and I are limited in what we can do because we have different talents and abilities. Paul wrote about different roles for people of different talents in the 12th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. And even if we were virtually unlimited in our abilities, we would be constrained by time and normal human limitations. We simply cannot do what needs to be done (See yesterday’s post, ST. PAUL, ST. JAMES, AND SALVATION BY FAITH.) on our own; it takes the collective effort of believers from many backgrounds and of many abilities to accomplish the works that God wants accomplished, both to spread the good news of the salvation He offers us and to give witness to the faith by which we are saved.

Going to church was tough back in the 1st century and, though less so, it’s still tough today. And, no, it isn’t necessary to go to church to be saved; Jesus already took care of that (Again, see ST. PAUL, ST. JAMES, AND SALVATION BY FAITH.) But church attendance helps strengthen our own faith and the faith of others and to bring the good news to others. So find a church that you like to attend, not a church that you feel you must attend, regardless of denomination, and go when the Spirit moves you, hopefully, but not necessarily, frequently. You’ll be doing God’s work…and yourself, and many others, a favor.


Anonymous said...

Great piece and closing suggestion.

The Pontificator said...

Thanks for reading and commenting.
God bless.