“Great…here she comes again”, the coach said under his breath. Timmy’s mom walked down to the dugout around 6:30pm on Wednesday afternoon, the same time she does every week. Of course, for the coach, it always falls at the most inopportune time. He doesn’t want Timmy to leave just yet. He shows more potential than most of the other kids on the team, but he just can’t seem to get over that hump to go from a good player to a great player. “Can Timmy have 5 more minutes?”
“Sorry Coach,” says Timmy’s mom. “Bible class starts at 7:00, and he needs to get his clothes changed.”
“No problem. Just make sure he’s here on time Saturday morning because we need him focused for the game.” The coach grumbles under his breath, “Why is he the only player that has to bail on his team? I mean, come on…it’s only Bible class!”
How often have you seen a scenario like this play out? Maybe it was someone on your child’s team. Maybe you were the coach. Maybe you were Timmy’s mom. For the child that is leaving to make it to mid-week Bible study on time, he or she is being instilled with a lesson that will never be forgotten: the lesson that every assembly of the church is important!
The assembly of the church is something I’ve come to respect and appreciate more and more as I get older. Maybe it’s because I’m getting a better appreciation for the benefits of the assembly, or maybe it’s because I see the spiritual growth in my children. There is one reason, however, that I know has impacted my reason to always strive to be there: missing the assembly of the church on purpose is a sin!
Wait, Jonathan. That seems a little harsh. I mean, I’m there on Sunday morning for worship. There are just a lot of things going on right now. It’s not like when our grandparents were young. Kids’ activities are so much more time consuming. My job keeps throwing more responsibility on me. I rarely get a chance to just sit down and rest anymore.
While that may all be true, it doesn’t change something that the Hebrews writer said in Hebrews 10:24-25: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as we see the Day approaching.” Obviously, the inspired writer saw that it was important to assemble.
Now, at the end of verse 25, many Bibles have a heading-break at that point. We must remember who put those headings there. It definitely wasn’t the writer of Hebrews. Those were added by men who were not inspired. So, instead of stopping at verse 25, let’s continue reading into verse 26: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”
Didn’t the writer just get done saying that we didn’t need to forsake the assembly? And now he says there is no more sacrifice for that sin if we do it on purpose. When those two verses are read together (as they were intended to be), it becomes obvious that Scripture is telling us that forsaking the assembly of the church is sin.
So, is Wednesday Bible class any less important than Sunday morning worship? What about Sunday morning Bible class, or Sunday evening worship? Maybe our congregation is holding a Gospel Meeting. Do I really have to go all week?
Isn’t each of those considered an assembly of the church? What did Hebrews 10:24-26 just say?
But what if I’m sick? What if I have to work? What if…what if…what if. We could come up with hypothetical scenarios all day for why we may not be able to make it to the assembly. There is a big difference in something happening that I can’t do anything about, and then willfully deciding to not go. When you get sick, are you at home longing to be with your church family? Or, do you sneeze one time and rejoice because now you get to stay home? Do you get scheduled to work on a Wednesday night and try to switch with someone? Better yet, are you trying to find a job that won’t keep you from the assembly?
Not only is it sin to willfully miss, but there are some very fundamental aspects of our Christian life that are affected as well. We miss the opportunity to be an encouragement to others (I Timothy 2:4). We miss an opportunity for personal growth (II Peter 3:18). We have allowed the devil to gain just another small foothold on our life (I Peter 5:8).
If you need to miss the assembly of the church for some reason, there are really only two people who know if you really wanted to be there: you and God. There will always be things that come up. There will always be things that seem to be very important that just can’t wait. However, if we structure our lives in such a way that God and our church family are at the top of our priority list, then we will be surprised how easy it is to be there every time the doors are open.