‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.’ (Hebrews 10:24–25 ESV)
We quote it, we preach on it, we reference it. The problem usually is that the people who need to hear this verse aren’t at a worship service or home group to actually hear it.
It’s made me wonder if we’ve really understood the original writer’s intention in this verse. If he (or she, see the many varied theories about the author of Hebrews) wrote this letter to encourage people to be servant-hearted and heavenly-minded and get along to church, and the only way people were going to hear this letter is if they were actually meeting with the church in the first place, those who needed to hear it were going to be none the wiser. Pretty much like our churches today.
It seems more reasonable that it’s written to those who are meeting together, to encourage them towards servant-heartedness and heavenly-mindedness and regular attendance, but also for them to take some sort of action towards those whose habit it is to neglect meeting together.
We might think it’s the church leadership structures that are responsible for attendance. And our elders do try to notice when people are drifting to the edge so they can make contact and ask how they’re doing.
But I think this verse encourages all followers of Jesus in a local community to notice each other. I think it encourages regular church attenders to consider ‘how to stir up … to love and good works’ those who are neglecting to meet together. I think it encourages faithful attenders to have the return of Jesus and eternity in view in the way they think about those who are making a habit of drifting away from God’s people.
Live it: If you notice someone’s not around anymore, call them or text them to ask how they’re going. Let your love and good deeds flow outwards to them. Think and pray about how you can encourage them as we wait for Jesus to return.
– Clint Lombard