We see a situation in Hebrews that is similar to those of persecuted Christians in closed countries today. At the time, the church was enduring Jewish persecution for moving away from the synagogue. Yet, this passage in Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is the completion and fulfillment of God’s story. To go back is to act like there’s more to come and that Jesus needs to be crucified all over again. We are exhorted to look to Jesus and hold fast to our confession in Him. One way we do this is through corporate worship.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25)
Corporate Worship Saves Us from Self Focus
We are commanded to consider others, to give them our focus and attention. Gathering with others in corporate worship naturally forces us to do this each week. This gathering is a call to pursue the freedom of other-centeredness. We get the chance to lift our heads to see that our greatest miseries are rooted in our belief the world revolves around us. When we see others worshipping despite their illnesses, finances, or broken relationships at home.
Corporate Worship Saves Us from Selfishness
Corporate worship saves us from selfishness. The word “stir” in verse 24 means to agitate. Think about the action of a paint mixer at Lowes or Home Depot. We gather with others to agitate love and good works. Amidst the struggles and celebrations of each week we tend to drift toward self focus. As we do, the good gospel stuff like kindness and love settles at the bottom of our hearts. The act of corporate worship stirs us and reminds us of our existence in a community under the authority of Jesus.
Corporate Worship Saves Us from Worshiping Ourselves
We assemble together on a day that is set apart, a sabbath, that we may rest. The word Sabbath means to cease or stop. After six days God ceased from his work. He then commanded that Israel stop their work and rest one day out of seven as an act of worship. Ceasing work to worship was a statement of faith saying, “I can stop working because God will provide.”
Corporate Worship is a Call to Rest in Jesus
After Jesus was raised from the dead, the early church applied this Sabbath principle to Sunday, the Lord’s Day. In principle we say “I can stop working because Jesus, on Easter Sunday, finished the work for me.” Each Sunday, we stop to be reminded that Jesus rules, not the hustle and bustle of our week. As we gather together, we are told to submit to the rest that God has set apart for us and bow before God’s King and the Savior of mankind.
Corporate Worship is a Corporate Witness
The passage in Hebrews also warns us against failing to meet together, “as is the habit of some.” To fail at this affects our witness, as the gathering of the church is a sign and witness to Jesus. It is the visible expression of faith.
Today, it can be especially tempting to forgo the assembly of the church. By most indicators, identifying Christians attend corporate worship about twice a month. Our culture has become increasingly secularized, and many parts of the daily routine (work, practices, other obligations) have bled into the traditional Sunday timeframe.
Consequently, it looks somewhat radical to prioritize the church – but that’s exactly how our commitment to worship together will speak to our culture. They will see the expression of our faith outlined by all of the sacrifice we practice just to meet together.
Corporate Worship is Flesh and Blood
Yet, corporate worship is more than just a way we can express our faith, it is also our way to experience the flesh and blood of Jesus. Hebrews tells us to encourage one another, and we are reminded of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who comes alongside us to point us to the presence of Jesus. Since the church is united by the Spirit, the presence and reality of Jesus is most fully realized when we are gathered together.
As we gather, we experience a relationship that cannot be provided through digital means. Not only is our digital life a source of misery for most, but a pixelated community cannot mediate the reality of Jesus. By the Spirit, we literally walk alongside each other. We share our grief, our worries, our joys, and we are physically pointed to Jesus in the church.
Corporate Worship is Our Kingdom Identity
Hebrews tells us that there is a “Day drawing near”; this day is the Second Coming, and as time spirals down, we will need the church all the more. Church attendance is a study of eschatology. We gather to be reminded of what we are: an outpost of the coming kingdom. We are also reminded of who we are: citizens of that kingdom. Our gathering is a sign of our victory over persecution and death.
Corporate Worship Reminds Us of Heaven
The worship we practice together shapes our kingdom life. It reminds us that heaven is not just ourselves and Jesus on a little cloud. We will experience Jesus and His Kingdom with His people forever. Our spiritual health is determined by how we train ourselves for eternity. It is not summed up individually, but it is summed up in the church. This worship is a microcosm of eternity. It’s one we cannot ignore.
- What are some practical ways you can consider others at church on Sundays?
- How does corporate worship provide rest?
- What can causes us to see church attendance as drudgery? How should we fight these things to find joy in gathering with the church?
- What are practical ways in which you can personally speak the gospel into people’s lives on a Sunday?
- What are some practical steps you and your family could make to be more consistent on attending corporate worship on Sundays?
- What are some practical ways in which you can make Jesus the focus of Sunday for your family?
- Why should corporate worship be a catalyst for our spiritual growth? How should it affect our witness?