"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: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.
* 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.