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  • Writer's pictureJacob Mamachan

Do I need to go to Church? A peek into Hebrews



Though we are in the ‘post Covid’ phase, the wounds are fresh and the memories still alive.

The novel aspect of this virus left the world confused and in search for answers. People adopted fresh ways to cope with this crises socially, culturally, mentally and spiritually.

Dogma and doctrine were re-examined, scriptural verses were re-evaluated and an assembly of theologians aided the seeking christian with reliable answers. While we must applaud the many who have brought biblical answers to our hearts’ doorstep, the darker christianity - lazy, lukewarm and dying ones - sought for conveniences and excuses. The Lord’s table became a matter of convenience, attending church became unappealing and the internet was ordained as pastor of the global church!


This trend in neglecting the physical gatherings started to soar and many became home viewers.

A couch, some pillows and a remote control… let us watch today's show - the church!

Is this the right direction? Is this godly behaviour? Are believers taught to treat physical gatherings lightly?

To use a computer analogy, are we moving into ‘church upgraded’?

Well, these questions are a preview of the infilling of the spirit of delusion that has infested many christians. The lack of understanding of the plan of God through the scriptures, are like seeds that grow into these massive fruitless trees. The lack of sound scriptural teaching and spiritual exhortation, the pure commercial selling of Christ and the utter mechanical nature of the gatherings has brought this doom upon our once enlightened spiritual minds!


I hope to shed light and thereby convert slipping hearts to the side of scriptures. I will lay out one verse from Hebrews and pray that the Lord will open your hearts to think deeply about these issues.

Hebrews 10:25 “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (ESV, 2016 Text Edition)

I will lay out the basic elements of the verse and provide my conclusion.


The Eschatological Outlook

The writer of Hebrews also faced a similar situation where certain members were neglecting the gathering of the believers. This was neither encouraged nor treated lightly. The author exhorts these defaulters to return to the physical gatherings because "the Day is drawing near”. This understanding is crucial as it lays out the motivations for encouraging believers to gather physically. Unlike our motivations, the author of Hebrews was driven by the theme - Yahweh’s Day!


The Day of the Lord -

The Day of the Lord is a key theme in the old testament and connotes divine presence and judgement. For example, the prophet Amos writes about this day. “Yahweh’s Day” is a central motif amongst the prophets and is not to be seen as a celebratory event, but one that must be feared and revered to the highest degree.

Amos 5:18-20 - Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light, as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall, and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?

The Day of the Lord is clearly portrayed as a day of judgment when Yahweh will judge His people, nations and all creation - declaring His supremacy before the eyes of every creation! (cp. Joel 1:15)


The New Testament authors also encapsulate this motif in their writings. For example, when speaking about the truthfulness and faithfulness in building the body of Christ, Paul warns his detractors by saying,

“each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day (Gr. ἡ ἡμέρα ) will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done” [1 Corinthians 3:13, ESV].

The fire (metaphorically speaking) will be a prominent element in revealing the intentions of each one's work and this will be set for an open display at the great event called the Day.


Habit of some -

Hebrews observes that this is the habit (Gr. ἔθος) of some. The greek use of the word can mean

(a) a behaviour dictated by tradition or

(b) something that is a habitual action.

One of the leading lexicons has the following comment -

In a number of languages there is no noun for ‘custom’ or ‘habit,’ but the same meaning is communicated by verbal aspects or adverbial phrases indicating habitual action.
For example, in the case of Jn 19:40 one may translate in some languages ‘as is the way in which Jews always bury people,’ and for 1 Cor 11:16 one may translate ‘this is not what we constantly do.’
(Louw-Nida, 506)

Therefore, the issue being highlighted in Hebrews is about a bad behavior ranging from negligence, ignorance, arrogance, egotism, immodesty, trepidation, timidity, doubt, indolence, dullness and the like, which should not be tolerated or accepted in no manner. Such habits must be broken as they do not conform to godly and pious ways in accordance with holiness or christian character.

Conclusion

From the two key take away points - Day of the Lord and Habit of some, we can infer that our situation today is more or less the same and the scriptures have spoken. Treating physical gatherings as redundant is not a godly character.


Why do some neglect the assembly or even consider gathering together?

1. Social environment - Some christians gather because of the social environment that they have at church such as their friends, relatives, business partners, and other relationships. Even if we concede that there is a social strata to the church, the primary and dominating motive must be the appearance of Christ. To put it into theological terms, our gathering is eschatological in outlook and motivation, than social.

To extend the idea, we need to gather keeping in mind the following two points -

(a) gathering is necessary in anticipation of the ‘day of the Lord’. We need to exhort, teach, learn, and grow together as the physical body of Christ awaiting the great coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!

(b) assembling foreshadows the appearance of the Lord - we gather together with immense joy and anticipation because our physical gathering mimics (foreshadows) the coming of the Lord with his holy ones.


“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones” (Jude 14, ESV)


2. Administrative or organizational roles - Some gather because they have a role to perform in church. If not for their part, they would not be interested and even skip church days because it was not their day to perform. They may be leaders, music team members, sunday school teachers, sound system organizers etc., which could be reasons for them to go to church. The motivation is again faulty and does not support a healthy spiritual growth. It could harm the body of Christ by causing believers to lose focus and destabilize the saints.


A few points to keep it simple, yet hoping to lay a good foundation to aim for the correct christian motivation and behavior, let us therefore choose to gather as often as possible and give ourselves more to the study of scriptures. Let us put away entertainment and worldly reasons that only satisfy the flesh and emotions and not the Lord.

My purpose is to exhort and help readers to strengthen their walk with the Lord.

We need to a have a biblically trained mind with consistent pursuit.

May the Lord guide your heart to the truth.

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