“I don’t go to church for the people. I only go for the Word of God!”
Somehow when my friend made that statement the other night in my home group it troubled me. She sounded so pleased that her motives were correct; she was sure that her priorities were in order.
I know what she was referring to; she has been hurt by people gossiping and judging one another in church meetings. She meant that she doesn’t go for appearance, or to make an impression on others. As she elaborated on her comment, I could see that she often goes in spite of the other people there.
However, I couldn’t help but think about what Word of God says about our reasons for meeting together. The principles in that same Word (that she was making her only priority in congregating) mention many other reasons than just listening to preaching. (Actually, I have found that when preaching is mentioned in the New Testament, it generally refers to sharing the Gospel outside of the believers’ meetings!)
- And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- …be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, (Ephesians 5:18-19)
- Then how is it, brothers? When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be for building up. (1 Corinthians 14:26)
- And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful.
Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:15-16)
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t include good, solid Bible teaching in our priorities for meeting together. Certainly God desires to unify and build us up as a body through the teaching of His Word. But I have found that many people who put that reason on top of the list do so because they have not developed the habit of digging into God’s Word on their own at home. I can understand that if a person didn’t eat at home they would be starved for a good spiritual meal once a week! But God’s best is for us to seek Him daily, and from the overflow of what He speaks to us we can build each other up when we gather together.
What has your experience been?
How can we encourage people to build each other up?