Monday, August 18

Why go to church?

In the 80 days we have been back in the USA we have been asked to speak only twice about our life and ministry in Ecuador. Both times to Sunday School classes made up of seniors ages 65 and above. Both times were a delight, but as we have sat through service after service in a half dozen or so churches, the one passage that keeps coming to mind--and one I would love to share with the churches if given the opportunity--is Hebrews 10:24-25.

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 ESV)

Alan Knox recently posted an excellent response to this verse entitled But I have perfect attendance addressing the very question that continues to nag at me week after week as we visit churches here in the States. Alan writes...

Specifically, what are believers required to do according to this verse?

The command in this passage (actually, an imperatival use of the subjunctive) is "let us consider". The purpose of "considering one another" is to stir up love and good works. Thus, the author of Hebrews expects believers who have the freedom to enter the presence of God (Heb 10:19) and who have Jesus as their high priest (Heb 10:21) to demonstrate that by thinking of ways to exhort others toward love and good works in their lives. This is the command, not "assembling".

So, what part does "assembling" play in this passage. It plays a secondary role. The author of Hebrews recognizes that we cannot exhort one another towards love and good works if we never meet with one another. Similarly, we cannot stir up one another towards love and good works if we do not encourage one another. The two participles ("not forsaking" and "encouraging") play an important, but secondary, role in the requirement of considering one another in order to provoke love and good works in each other's lives.

So what? We're still supposed to assemble together, right? Yes, in fact, according to Scripture, believers will want to meet together with other believers. Assembling together is not required in Scripture, but it is expected. However, attendance alone does not meet any scriptural requirements. It is possible to meet together with other believers and never fulfill the purpose of thinking about how to spur one another on towards love and good works, and then exhorting them towards that goal. A "perfect attendance" award means nothing to a believer.

If we meet together in a way that precludes us from encouraging one another toward love and good works, then we are not meeting in a way that Scripture prescribes or describes. Similarly, if we require attendance, but do not allow believers opportunities to exhort one another toward maturity, then we are not helping people to follow the teachings of Scripture.

Instead of someone saying, "I don't think I've seen you around here in the last few weeks", what if they said, "I noticed that you haven't encouraged anyone around here in the last few weeks".

Yes, I know. It is much easier to count noses. It makes us feel better to have a "full house". But, attendance means nothing if people are not exhorting one another toward maturity in Christ...

So let's continue meeting together - whether in large or small scheduled weekly meetings or in large or small spontaneous meetings. But, let's come together for the right reason: not to count noses and record attendance, but to consider one another in order to stir up one another towards love and good works.

Saturday, August 2

Our family

Yesterday we had one of those rare moments when all our immediate family was together in one place at the same time. We decided we'd better get the cameras out and record the moment!

Pictured are my mom and dad (Jim and Pat Muse) along with my family, my brother Greg and two sisters, Gwen and Gail with their respective families.

Guy, Linda, Josh and Anna...

Tom and Gwen...

Greg, Cathy, Jennifer, Katie, and Hannah.

Edwin, Gail, Luke and Joseph...