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Consistency in Fellowship

by Larry Riekenberg

You wake up on Sunday morning; your head is throbbing; you have fever pain; and this is going to be one morning that you are not going to make it to church. Next Sunday rolls around. You wake up to howling wind and a blinding blizzard; you check the website, services cancelled for today due to inclement weather.

It’s nice to sleep in on Sunday morning just this one time. The following Sunday your wife informs you that your son is sick, one of you will need to stay home with him and you volunteer. Then you think about the live streaming provided by the church. This is nice, sit down, relax, have a second cup of coffee and take in the service. Now it has been three weeks since you have been to church.

After three times, it becomes a habit. You can get some work done around the house, and still get to hear the sermon, or at least most of it, and not have to get out when the weather is not cooperating. These modern electronic devices make things so much easier and less time consuming. You are on your way to skipping services altogether and maybe not always catch it streaming on the website either.

We have had the convenience of hearing messages from Scripture on the radio and TV for many years. What, after all, is the purpose of getting together to be there in person? We can get everything we need without all the hassle.

Scripture gives us a very specific directive: We must not be “forsaking our own assembling together” (Hebrews 10:25). Of course this was before all the modern conveniences that make getting together obsolete. Right?

We need to be thankful for the technology that makes this possible since it is a blessing to those who are not physically able to get to church services, but there is no substitute for personal fellowship.

In Hebrews 10:23-25 we read,

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. This passage gives us several things that we are to be about as believers, including our interaction with one another, which is impossible to do while lounging on the couch half asleep.

We are to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. This has an interesting background. Stimulate means to goad or prod. It comes from the device used to drive cattle along. They would use sturdy, pointed wooden rods to poke the cattle to keep them moving. A longer-lasting upgrade to these goads would include an iron pointer fastened to the prod which was more durable, a vivid picture of stimulating one another to love and good deeds.

We also see that we are to encourage one another. This may take various forms. There may be a brother or sister in the Lord who is dealing with loss, with pain and suffering, who needs a loving arm around their shoulder or a promise to pray for them and a sincere offer to help.

This is to continue as we see the day drawing near. In the context of the Book of Hebrews we are waiting for what is called the “rest” or looking for the promised city, the time when we will be with the Lord.

We are to hold fast our confession of hope. To forsake getting together with other believers and not be involved in solid Bible teaching is an invitation to waver in our faith. As we fellowship with other believers our faith is built up in the Word, our confidence in our position before the Lord is reassured, and our minds are directed to the One who promises eternal life—the One who is also faithful in making that a certain reality.

Neglecting the privilege of our fellowship with other believers is detrimental not only to us, but to the whole body of Christ. Our lack of involvement in the fellowship of believers is a loss to others who would be encouraged to growth by using the spiritual gifts that we have.

In Ephesians 4:14-16 we are told:

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.