“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 25
For all my life I have been a regular church attendee. Granted, my motivation wasn’t always that pure. As a child I went because my parents made me. Consequently, much of my “inspiration” came from the threat of punishment. Despite my occasional protests, particularly in my teen years, they still made me go. They wouldn’t have it any other way and, to be honest, looking back on it, neither would I.
I say that because the “habit” of worship is in many ways just that . . . a habit. Now, typically we think of habits as things we have to kick. However, there are good habits as well and attending worship is one of them. It is a learned behavior that has to be instilled in us because, on our own, our Old Adams would never choose to go. The inclination of our sinful nature, if we are to be honest, would always be to choose to do something else other than worship. This is especially true in this day and age when there is so much competition for our time and attention most of which is easily accessible and much more appealing to our sinful flesh. Worship was always a good part of my life; I just didn’t realize it when I was younger. Unfortunately, it just took my maturity level a little while to catch up.
Neglecting the “habit” of worship can be dangerous for the believer. Worship is where God gives us his gifts of Word and Sacrament. These are the very things which sustain our faith and keep us focused on Christ and his cross. That’s why the author of Hebrews gives the warning in the above verse for those who were beginning to develop a new habit (which was probably an old habit) of not gathering together for worship. The risk, to be blunt, was an atrophying faith that could not stand in the face of that “Day” when it came.
That “Day” he refers to in this passage is the “Day of the Lord” or “Judgment Day.” Granted, that certainly has an ominous ring to it but it does for a reason . . . it is ominous. At some point in the future, at a time we just don’t know, Christ our Lord will return and there will be a reckoning. How firm will our faith be at that time?
The encouragement given in this verse is, in light of the coming judgment, we as Christians are not to neglect the things that feed and strengthen our faith. Grace upon grace comes to us in worship as we confess our sins, receive absolution, hear God’s Word about Christ death and resurrection for us and for our sins, and as we eat his body and drink his blood in his holy supper. Forgiveness of sins abounds in worship and where there is the forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. To put it simply, worship is what we need.
Gracious God, you are the giver of all good gifts. We thank you that in your goodness you give to us the gift of worship whereby you feed and nourish our souls. Help us always to hunger and thirst for your word that we might be continually strengthened to walk with you all the days of our lives until you come in your glory to take us to be with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.