Persevering in Faith
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Last week we started looking at the importance of meeting together for worship. This week we continue with the above section from Hebrews. Note that three times the church is exhorted with the words “let us”, meaning the church body of Christ. Let us draw near to God sincerely with the full assurance that faith brings. What steals our full assurance of salvation? One example is sin, and the accusatory voice of Satan. But note the reference to the sacrament of Baptism, a benefit of corporate worship. He mentions having our guilty consciences cleansed. I really like how Pastor Peter has been leading us through confession and absolution every Sunday. And, of course, the sacrament of Holy Communion is another benefit to corporate worship which we could spend a lot of time on.
And then “let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”.
Imagine a person sitting in front of you at a worship service had a tough week. Maybe someone made fun of their faith, or threw some doubt into their mind. Will they not be comforted when they hear you boldly confess your faith as you recite the creed? Likewise we are encouraged when we hear the promises of God read in scripture and taught from the pulpit.
And then “let us consider how we may spur one another toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”
The other day Pastor Peter and I were talking about how rampant apathy is today, not just in the church but in general. It may have been headed that way before, but the whole pandemic thing seems to have amplified it. What is the antidote for apathy? I think it is encouragement. Should we not all be encouragers? Scripture points to many examples encouragement (Acts 15:32, Acts 16:40, Acts 18:27). Remember Joseph, who was so gifted at encouragement that the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement”. Romans 1:11-12 says “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.” Note in this case Paul speaks of encouragement to the Christians in Rome and himself. Do you think Pastor Peter is encouraged when we show up on Sunday? You bet! And conversely pastors feel discouraged when we don’t.
Just a few more thoughts to wrap this up. Corporate worship is also a place to exercise our spiritual gifts. When some parts of the body are absent the body doesn’t function as well. Imagine if the field goal kicker for the Seahawks said “I’m not feeling it today. I think I will sleep in.” and didn’t show for the game. I know what you’re thinking, but you get the point.
Corporate worship is also important because it teaches our children to love the Lord by our example. I remember watching my dad writing out his offering check to the church on Sunday mornings, and waiting patiently for us to get to the car in the morning. I remember my sweet mother singing her beloved hymns during the service. Meeting for church was highly important to them, and it taught me the same. If your children see that worship isn’t that important to you, it probably won’t be for them. Along that line I was also encouraged by many heroes of the faith at Hope when I was growing up. Corporate worship is a place to mentor and be mentored, sometimes without even saying a word. And we can share each other’s burdens. Now that we are meeting together again, the Commons is a great place to share in each other’s lives. And I could go on but I’m out of time again.
So corporate worship is a place where we come together to be forgiven, to hear the word of God and build our faith, to worship in thankfulness for those gifts, and to give to others in the form of encouragement. So if that’s some of what corporate worship is, what is it not? Hmmm. Stay tuned…
Prayer: Father, thank you for choosing us, for sending Jesus to redeem us. We aren’t worthy, but we are thankful. Forgive us for the apathy we have when it comes to worship. Help us to remember the joy of your salvation and worship you with glad hearts out of thankfulness. Amen
Blessings on the rest of your week!