Why Meeting MattersBy Dave Harvey
April 18, 2020
Come on, be honest. Do you ever feel like you just need a break from God’s people? Do you ever think that you might be motivated to love them more if you could just get a break? You know the saying: absence makes the heart grow fonder. I mean when our activity-dial is already set on “caffeinated frantic,” why add church meetings?
The author of Hebrews supplies an answer: “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 11:24, 25). Consider what this passage tells us about how church meetings influence our desire to flourish in God.
First, our desires need community. When you think about pleasing or obeying God, how often do you think about the voice of other people in your life? Or, equally important, your voice in their life. Hebrews says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another.” Tucked within this passage is a glorious cause behind gathering Christians—stoking the fire of love and good works in each other. When Christians connect, Spirit-led synergy happens. At least it should. Sparks of enthusiasm should fly igniting love and good works. In an age of hyper-autonomy, it almost sounds crazy, but God has ordered our motivation in a way where my words can influence your desires for love. Conversely, my silence can nurture your passivity.
When it comes to doing great things for Jesus, how often do you consider your need for others? Just think about it: God could’ve organized our motivation any way he wanted. He could’ve made us so we were most fruitful in isolation; he might have wired us so the words of one have no bearing on the godliness of another. God could’ve keyed love and good works to personal pilgrimages by yourself in the woods. But the reality is that God arranged his church so that our motivation and growth depends upon community. Like it or not, we’re in this together.
Second, our desires need meetings. The author doesn’t leave us to speculate wildly over how and where to apply his direction to “stir one another to love and good works.” We’re not left dangling here; he’s pretty direct: “Don’t neglect meeting together.” When you think about it, the dots connect pretty easily. If we’re really going to stoke one another towards love and good deeds, we need some specific contexts within which to do so.
It’s no coincidence that, when the church formed in Acts, believers met in the temple and from house to house. This wasn’t just a space issue (though when five thousand arrive in one day, space can be an issue). But more than just a larger square footage for meetings, the people of God were looking for ways to share, as Paul writes, “not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well” (1 Thess. 2:8). Meetings became God’s vitamin to boost the church’s strength and endurance. You know what I mean. Just the other night, I drove the 30 minutes to our small group wondering why I bother. Then I drove home so grateful I didn’t miss it. The thing that separated the drive to and from was the meeting itself. I left feeling stirred up for love and good works by what I heard from the lives and hearts of others.
It’s beautiful and mysterious and surprising. But something spiritual transpires when two or three are gathered; Christ is present, and there’s a transfer of faith as believers share how God’s word is making a difference in their lives.
Lastly, our desire to meet will come under attack. I’m so glad that the Bible isn’t blind to my temptations. The writer of Hebrews knows that neglecting to meet together is the habit of some. Irregular church attendance or downgrading church involvement is hardly a modern phenomenon. I mean, whether it’s by golf, football, the morning news shows, or by our own relational pain, we are prone to distraction.
God knows us. God love us. God alerts us. If meeting together is a place where Christian’s are inspired towards love and good works, then meeting together will be a primary target of attack for the enemy.
The largest battle of World War II was the Battle of Bulge. The U.S. lost eighty-one thousand soldiers; the Germans lost around one hundred thousand. In that battle, the Allied counterattack focused on the Germans’ fuel supply. The Allies knew that tanks don’t move forward without fuel. Cut the fuels lines, win the battle. Our enemy also knows we need fuel for progress. Without connecting to others, our petrol runs out and Christians stall. So, our enemy attacks the motivation to meet.
That’s why we’re told to meet even more as the day of judgment draws near. In Daniel 12:4, the Lord reveals something fascinating about the end of days. “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” That sounds a lot like our world, doesn’t it? We’re always busy, always active, always online, always on the move—there’s information on every screen. But you know, it seems like a whole lotta running to and fro, with knowledge increasing at every click. As news cycles turn, life gets busier—what’s a Christian supposed to do?
The writer of Hebrews supplies one clear answer. We meet. And as the days get darker, we don’t neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some. But we encourage one another. In fact, the nuttier things become, the more we need to connect “as you see the Day drawing near.”Pastors, when motivation lags, sympathize with the temptations but also help them to see the implications. Encourage your people to double down on being together. In fact, it’s pretty strategic to encourage them to meet together because their motivation is lagging. Because it’s when we meet with God’s people that we’re stirred and stoked for love and good works!
Featured image: GCC