Thursday, December 04, 2008

Re-Thinking The Sunday Church Service (Part 3)

Read the entire series here.

"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." Hebrews 10:23-25.

It is interesting that this verse is quite often used as a biblical command to go to church. Is this what it says? Going to church is not even the context of the passage. The immediate context is loving one another. Stimulating one another to 1) love, 2) good deeds, and, 3) encouraging one another are the three actions that form the immediate context. The context requires community, or "one another." Forsaking assembly with others doesn't foster love towards others. For some, this was a habit that shouldn't be a habit. Assembling with one another seems to be a secondary thought to loving one another in this passage.

So, if this verse is used as a proof text for the command to go to church, and the greater context is stimulating one another to love, stimulating one another to good deeds and encouraging one another, doesn't it follow that these three things should be very prominent in the church meeting? As my friend Bruce asks on his blog: [Update: link is no longer available]

The above mentioned text gives three reasons for meeting together:
* Stir up one another to love
* Stir up one another to good works
* Encouraging one another
Pray tell me how going to a building to watch a paid religious worker perform even comes close to these three reasons for meeting together?

Most people who attend Church are passive. The staff does the work and they sit in the pew judging the performance based on their own personal feelings and preferences.
Maybe if the Sunday Church Service were much more geared toward Christians loving one another, fewer problems would exist in the church. Loving one another always seems to be expected outside of church, outside of the church meeting where meeting with one another is more difficult.

Part 2 . . . . . . . . Part 4


  1. Sit back and think through your whole Church experience........all the different Churches, pastors, and people.

    When, where and from whom did you receive love?

    We tend to so focus on doctrine, worship style, music, proper ecclesiology. etc that we forget the key is love.

    Sign outside Church 2 blocks away says " Jesus is the visible face of an invisible God"
    Dead Wrong........

    We are (and a nod to nature) the visible face of an invisible God. We are his ambassadors, his people, his.... whatever descriptive word you want to put here........

    God loves us and we know that because the Bible tells us so (and we sing a song that tells us) Yet, sometimes we doubt God's love because his visible lovers here on earth don't do much loving. (and I include myself in that judgment)

    I cor 13 is still in the Bible much to our shame.

    I have had a few people in my life show me genuine love. My wife. A mentor. My kids. And a few friends. It seems for many people they can't love without a string being attached. I am grateful God loves with no strings attached.


  2. I have been on a quest for the Biblical meaning of the word love, for I've been accused of being "unloving", and while I'm sure the accusations have merit, I'm not convinced such merit is always based on the reasons the accusations are made. With that in mind, I picked up on something I've never noticed before as I read this: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... I find it interesting that the "stimulate... to love" seems to carry a distinction from "good deeds". It is my estimation that in this modern age those two have been morphed into one and are without distinction so that to do good deeds is the exact same thing as to love someone. But as I see it, this is not the case. One of the ways to love someone is to point to and hold sound doctrines, or perhaps more pointedly put, to indoctrinate properly so that truth will reign supreme in our lives so that we will ultimately glorify God and advance His kingdom... and live a more abundant life in circumstances in which to do so would seem impossible in the process.