As COVID-19 has changed normal living for many in certain states, churches have had to adapt. Several have taken advantage of modern technology and now live stream their services. This is a great blessing! Yet, as I have had opportunity to interact with several pastors, some have expressed concern that since shelter-in-place orders have continued longer than expected, their people perhaps will become accustomed to staying at home. Some folk are enjoying too much watching services in their pajamas, including ourselves! The concern, however, is fair because some don’t need much of a nudge to stay at home.
Current events certainly highlight the reality that end times events will eventually play out as the Scripture prophecies. In this light, Hebrews 10:23-25 is so relevant:
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke [motivate] unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
A pastor friend recently pointed out the last phrase, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. The thought caught my attention. As end times events approach, the biblical writer emphasizes the importance of assembling as the people of God so much the more. More, not less. Undoubtedly, when God inspired this text, He was well aware of the time when live streaming would be possible. While it is a true blessing to the sick and shut-ins and to so many more in weird times like the present, live streaming is not to replace the assembling of the saints.
There is a corporate dynamic of the Spirit of God moving in the midst of the gathered saints. That dynamic, God in the atmosphere of the assembled saints, demands assembling. Body life takes place when the individuals meet as a body. This is where many are motivated to love and good works. This is where exhortation takes place. This is where saints experience the touch of Jesus through other saints. The Spirit’s work in the assembly encourages those who need that encouragement and equips the saints for ministry.
May we decide to embrace the importance God has placed on the church meeting together, and may we meet even more, not less, as we see the day approaching.
John Van Gelderen