He probably assumed the people he taught would attend their respective houses of worship, but he didn't feel the need to teach this as a core value. In fact, the gospels only present Jesus in the temple a few times--and in the one time they all report, Jesus tore the place apart!
Yet, for many of us, church attendance is the height of our spiritual commitment.
We have reasons for this. We point to one big reason in the bible itself: "[Do not give] up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but [encourage] one another" (Hebrews 10:25). We tell others that the bible commands their attendance at church meetings.
So we have church members attending bible studies out of obligation, not love. When obligation is the foundation, little encouragement happens. Lifelessness is prominent.
We have church members attending bible studies and worship services when they are sick. These poor members take the day off work, or struggle through the day, yet muster up their remaining strength to attend a bible study, rather than staying home and resting.
Is this really what God intended?
What if we misunderstood this teaching in Hebrews? One reality in Hebrews is that people were deserting the faith, giving up on it (and Jesus) in the midst of persecution and trial. There are numerous calls throughout this book to retain faith and keep strong (Heb. 2:1). The warning passages (Heb. 6:4-6, for example) are intended to remind people of what they have and what they stand to lose if they leave.
Then we come to Hebrews 10:25.
We need to remember that the early church was nowhere near as developed as we are, two thousand years later. We have buildings, an internal structure, a board of directors, a leadership structure, programs, meetings, budgets, bank accounts, legal forms, policies, things to maintain, and people to pay. The early church had little of this.
What the early church had was each other.
This is the core of what the writer is teaching in Heb. 10:25. If you don't have each other, you can't possibly stay faithful. That's why you need to focus on encouraging each other as a core value. Encouragement builds the body of Christ and keeps others strong when they feel like quitting.
"Meeting together," in Heb. 10:25, is not about attendance at the church building. It's about not giving up on others, or yourself, or Jesus. It's about not giving in to temptation and trials. It's about remembering who and whose you are. It's about being together as a group, sharing the unity and fellowship that are in Christ.
So if you're sick, stay home and rest. There's no need to be around others. No mature believer will look down on you.
If you're tired after a long day, take the night off. Don't feel obligated to attend a Wednesday night bible study out of fear of what others will say or think. No mature believer looks at church attendance as the barometer of your faithfulness. (In fact, they shouldn't be measuring your faithfulness to begin with; they have enough to worry about with themselves.)
Jesus taught that we are to love and serve each other. This happens in and out of meetings, worship services, and bible studies. Church attendance, in any form, is not the goal we are after.
Focus on love, service, and encouragement--and let your attendance serve these goals.
Do you agree? Disagree? Please leave your comments.